Jury Returns Verdict In Aaron Lasure Trial
A Jury trial was held in Tyler County Circuit Court on Thursday, May 16, in the case of Aaron Lasure, 41, of 517 Front Street, New Matamoras, Ohio. The trial was heard by Judge Jeffery D. Cramer and Prosecuted by Tyler County Prosecutor D. Luke Furbee for the state. John Gainer represented the defendant in the case.
Lasure had been indicted by the October 2018 term of the Tyler County Grand Jury with two felony charges of possession of a schedule 11 controlled substance (methamphetamine) with the intent to deliver and transportation of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) into the state.
At an earlier hearing on April 2, 2019, Lasure entered into a plea agreement in the case and pleaded guilty to the charges. Later in that hearing before the court accepted his plea, and after being told by Judge Cramer and Prosecutor Furbee of the penalties he faced, he changed his mind and withdrew the guilty plea. At that time Judge Cramer set May 16 as the trial date.
On Thursday, Jury selection started at 9 a.m. and at 10:40 a.m. a 12 person jury was seated. The trial started with Prosecutor Furbee presenting his opening statement to the jury and asking them to weigh all the evidence presented and to reach a verdict of guilty to the charges.
Furbee told the jury the evidence was clear, and they would hear testimony proving Lasure did indeed posess methamphetamines with intent to deliver and he also brought the drug into the state of West Virginia from the state of Ohio.
He said the case was about drug deals and possession with intent to sell. “The defendant admitted to what he did. This is real, live and not scripted and I’m confident the presumption of innocence will be overcome,” stated Furbee.
Gainer addressed the jury on behalf of his client with an opening statement, saying his client denies making a confession. “He did say he possessed methamphetamine but not with intent to sell as he’s charged, but he did not bring it in from Ohio, he met an individual at Wal-Mart in New Martinsville who gave it to him,” said Gainer. He reminded the jury reasonable doubt must be proved.
Furbee than called his first witness to the stand Tyler County Sheriff Sargent David Scott Dalrymple. Upon questioning from Furbee, Dalrymple testified he has been employed as a police officer since 1996. Part of his duties with the TCSO is to handle evidence, store it and send it to state agencies. He testified about storing the evidence from the arrest of Lasure. He had it present with him in court and identified it as the same evidence he stored as a result of the arrest.
He told how it was stored and later sent to the state police lab in Charleston to be analyzed. He said he stored it on May 7, 2018, the day after Lasure’s arrest and it was sent to the lab on May 15, and, received back on November 13. Dalrymple said there is only one key to the evidence room and he keeps it on his possession. He said he had the opportunity to view the evidence on May 8, 2019, and they are the same items.
Furbee, also called Tyler County Sheriff Deputy Lieutenant Shannon Huffman to the stand. Huffman said he has been with the Sheriff’s department for over 14 years and attended the State Police Academy in 2005 and has kept up to date with all his training and has been heavily involved in drug activity for the department.
Huffman testified to making a traffic stop in Sistersville on May 6, 2018, after seeing a vehicle with an Ohio tag and defective equipment. He said he pulled them over at the Subway in Sistersville and there were two individuals in the car. He said he knew Mr. Lasure who is a cousin to his wife. Huffman said Lasure appeared very nervous and was sweating. He said he asked for identification and when they opened the glove box Deputy Rine noticed syringes.
Huffman said at that point both individuals were removed from the vehicle. Huffman testified he asked Lasure if there was anything in the car and he responded “you know there is.” He said Lasure also gave a head nod when asked if there was Methamphetamine in the car. Huffman stated he read Lasure his Miranda rights and a K-9 search of the car turned up what appeared to be Methamphetamine and a lot of other items, including a bank bag with a set of digital scales, containers and syringes.
Huffman also testified to making a deal with Lasure, who agreed to be an informant for the Police against his supplier. However that fell through when Lasure failed to appear on two occasions.
He was subsequently arrested and taken to jail.
Huffman also identified the Methamphetamine and other items taken at the time of the arrest. He also gave testimony that Lasure gave a voluntary statement that he was going to use the meth. and maybe sell some if he needed gas. He said Lasure said he sells it for $50.00 as packaged.
Gainer cross examined Huffman for the defense by asking him if Lasure ever said he brought the meth in from Ohio. He said his client isn’t disputing having possession but he is disputing bringing it in from Ohio and having it for sale.
After an hour lunch break the jury reconvened and the state called it’s third witness Blake Kinder a forensic scientist with the state police, in Charleston, where he’s been employed since 2017. He identified the items in court and said they were the ones he tested and determined to be methamphetamine.
Gainer asked the court for a dismissal on the grounds that the quantity of meth is more consistent with simple possession and that there was no solid evidence his client transported the meth from Ohio. Judge Cramer denied the motion and ordered the trial to continue.
Gainer called Lasure to the stand to testify on his own behalf. He said when he got pulled over in Sistersville by Huffman, he was very nervous, and he was sweating. He said he was under the influence of meth and he didn’t know what he was agreeing to when he signed the statement. He said he agreed to work as an informer but only because he didn’t want to go to jail and was under the influence of meth. He also explained the scales and packaging of the meth was for his own use, so he wouldn’t use to much and overdose. He said he planned to use all he had. Admitting he was an addict at the time but is now recovering.
Prosecutor Furbee questioned Lasure as to where he lives. He sated he lives in WVa., but has Ohio plates because he can’t pass a WVa., drivers license test. Furbee questioned Lasure about the statement he gave on May 6, 2018. Furbee asked him if he is saying the statement is now not true. Lasure again said he was on meth at the time and dosent’s believe he knew what he was doing. He said hehas an eighth grade education and can’t read or write to well.
In closing arguments Furbee told the jury the meth was packaged for sale. Plus, there were all the other items such as the scales and it was apparent he was planning to sell. He admitted to having it. “His own
testimony was he got the meth from Joy Headley in Ohio. Furbee asked the jury to find Lasure guilty as charged.
Gainer asked the jury to find his client not guilty. He said there has been no evidence to prove either of the charges.
After about 45 minutes of deliberations the jury announced they had a verdict. Lasure was told to stand and the verdict was read finding him guilty of possession of a controlled substance methamphetamine with the intent to deliver. He was found not guilty of transporting a controlled substance methamphetamine into WVa.
Judge Cramer ordered a pre-sentence investigation report be done by the probation office prior to a sentencing hearing. Lasure was allowed to remain free on post conviction bond.