In mid-December we went to trial on a case in Detroit, Michigan.
Our client was charged back in late 2012 of Possession of nearly 200 grams of cocaine and felony firearm. If he were convicted, he would have been looking at 5-8 years in prison.
However, we knew he was innocent.
The police had allegedly received an anonymous tip that someone was dealing drugs out of our client’s mother’s house in Detroit. Our client did not live at this house, but while his mother was in Florida, he was taking care of the home. The police busted into the home and found our client in the home in a towel (he was about to take a shower). They arrested him and conducted a search of the home.
At this point the “facts” get muddled. The police claimed that they caught our client walking down the stairs (coming from upstairs) and that when they searched the upstairs bedroom they found several guns, pictures of our client, a large amount of cocaine, paperwork proving our client lived at that house, and some cash. In fact, the police claimed that they found all of that “evidence” in and on top of a small end table on the side of a bed (wrapped up with a neat and tidy little bow too, right?)
However, our client claimed that the police did not catch him coming from upstairs, and that the guns were all legally registered and found throughout the house for protection (I mean it is Detroit after all) and that the cocaine was actually found by the police in the rafters in the basement. Further, he told us that many people stopped by and hung out at the home and that he had no idea that there was a bag of cocaine hidden away in the basement.
In other words, the police found a bunch of illegal items but had no way to actually connect our client to those illegal items (especially since the house doesn’t belong to him.)
Trial prep was arduous. We had to figure out a way to convince the jury that the police were lying about the location where all of the contraband was found, and we had to convince the jury that our client was being truthful about the fact that he didn’t know there were drugs in the home. We developed several lines of cross-examination for all of the officers and in the end Neil gave one of the best closing arguments he has ever given.
It was a 3 day jury trial and after about 2 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a NOT GUILTY verdict ON ALL COUNTS. It was apparent that the jury simply did not believe the police. Instead, they believed our client – when he testified that he did not know that someone was using his mother’s home as a stash house.