The attorney for a former Wendover police chief charged with distributing cocaine said recent evidence greatly weakens the case against his client.
Prosecutors charged A. June Carter with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute after agents discovered cocaine, metal scales and plastic bags in the trunk of his police car. A complaint alleges he took the cocaine from the Wendover police evidence room and put it in his car.Although the complaint states the agents had a warrant when they searched the former chief's trunk, attorney Steven Lee Payton said he has since found out that they had no search warrant.
"The prosecution now concedes they don't have a warrant and never had one," he said, referring to a conference call he had Monday with the prosecution and 3rd District Judge Frank Noel.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office said they prefer not to comment on the case, since it is still pending.
Payton said the agents initially applied for a warrant but apparently decided they didn't need one because they received a consent to search from Carter and Wendover Mayor Ab Smith.
Although Carter consented to let the agents search his home, he never gave permission for them to search his police vehicle, Payton said. The attorney claims officers didn't have a search warrant when they later searched the former chief's office.
During an earlier hearing, Payton said, the mayor took the stand and testified that he never authorized officers to search Carter's office.
"He doesn't have any authority to do it anyway," Payton said, adding that a mayor cannot consent to have city property searched just because he is the mayor.
Nor did the mayor authorize a search of the police car, Payton said.
Noel set a pretrial hearing for Oct. 10 to discuss and analyze the evidence on Oct. 10. Payton said that hearing could have a big effect on the case.
"If the prosecution loses on the issue of the search warrant, there's no case because they have no evidence," he said. "Otherwise, it will likely end up in the Supreme Court."
Carter's wife, Janese, is serving a one-to-15-year sentence for distributing cocaine to an undercover informant at the Crossroads Mall last February. Prosecutors said she, a former police officer and evidence clerk, took cocaine from the evidence room and sold it on 20 to 30 separate occasions.
Janese Carter claims she put the cocaine in the trunk of her husband's police car and said he did not know it was there.