Exam adjourned in pot-burning case in Hamburg

A preliminary examination for a Hamburg Township man accused of having “pounds” of marijuana, which he allegedly tried to burn when cops came to his home, was adjourned Monday.

Judge Carol Sue Reader began hearing testimony in the prosecutor’s case against Dennis Keith Towne, 57, who is charged with delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance. The hearing, which will determine if there is probable cause to send the case to trial, is tentatively continued to March 30.

Thus far, a Michigan State Police trooper with the Brighton post testified that officers went to Towne’s home in the 6500 block of Cunningham Drive in December because they were looking for the defendant’s son, who was wanted on an unrelated 10-count felony complaint.

Trooper Adam Henderson said the Towne home was “completely dark” and appeared to have no power, although the moon provided some lighting on the cold Dec. 15 evening.

Henderson said he began to see “an excessive amount of smoke coming from the chimney” as officers staked out the home after learning from Towne that his son was not there. He said the smell of “freshly burned marijuana” began to fill the air.

“It was not your typical toss-a-log-on-the-fire smoke,” the trooper explained, noting that the fire was so intense that it lit the room “like there were bright lights” in the home and sparks were coming from the chimney.

“It was getting brighter and brighter,” Henderson said, adding, “I observed Mr. Towne, literally, shoving handfuls of marijuana into a fire.”

Henderson and another trooper tried to kick in the door but were unable to gain immediate access to the home. He said he broke a window with his baton and that’s when Towne opened the door.

Henderson said officers later found an 18-gallon plastic tote about one-quarter full of “processed marijuana” as well as 50-100 live plants in the basement. He said marijuana — from seeds to full grown plants — were found throughout the house, including in a toilet.

“It looked like someone went through the house with a salt shaker and dumped marijuana,” the trooper said.

Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Rose indicated that there were 75 marijuana plants seized along with 41 bags of marijuana and marijuana suckers that amounted to “pounds” of the illegal drug.

“He had a lifetime supply of marijuana,” Rose told the judge as he and the defense attorney discussed the use of medical marijuana defense at the District Court stage of the proceedings.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Neil Rockind asked Henderson questions that related to whether the officer’s actions were restricted to the curtilage of the defendant’s home. The questioning stopped shortly after 5 p.m. and court recessed for the day.

Curtilage refers to the area surrounding and associated with the domicile. Courts have disallowed evidence when it finds an officer failed to restrict his or her movements to the curtilage of a defendant’s home.

via Livingston Daily


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