MOUNT VERNON — A Mount Vernon woman was found guilty Tuesday in a one-day jury trial of possessing a small amount of meth.
Nicole A. Young, 40, was found guilty of aggravated possession of drugs by a jury in Knox County Common Pleas Court.
Young, who claimed that someone else may have put the meth in her coat pocket, was not present when the verdict was read. Common Pleas Judge Richard Wetzel allowed the verdict to be read in Young’s absence, citing Ohio Criminal Rule 43. The rule states that a defendant must be present in the courtroom at all stages of trial, including reading of the verdict. However, it allows for exemptions if the defendant executes a waiver of the rule, or if the “defendant’s voluntary absence” comes after the trial has commenced.
It is not known why Young, who was present throughout the trial, was not in court. Her attorney, Knox County Public Defender John Pyle, said he attempted to contact Young by phone when the jury reached a verdict. Pyle said Young may have been having problems with her phone and the calls may not have gone through.
The charge stems from Feb. 9, 2018. According to testimony at trial, Young was a passenger in a truck in a traffic stop initiated by Knox County Sheriff’s detectives working surveillance on a suspected drug house.
Det. Terry Wolfe testified that he and Det. Aaron Phillips decided to stop the truck after noting the truck’s registration was expired. Because they were in plain clothes in an unmarked car, the detectives requested the stop be made by a road deputy. Deputy Shari Rice responded and made the stop.
Rice searched Young and found a small baggie containing a substance that later tested positive for meth. Suspecting it might be heroin, Wolfe expressed concern that Rice could get an accidental overdose if she touched the substance. Young said that the substance wouldn’t harm Rice, Wolfe testified.
Prior to Rice’s search, Young was searched by Wolfe, who didn’t find any drugs.
The meth weighed less than one-tenth of one gram. The detectives testified that Young was not seen entering or leaving the house that was under surveillance.
Young, who took the witness stand, said she felt the meth could have been put in her coat by someone else, or she may have put it there some time previously. Young testified that she didn’t know the meth was there, and “probably would have tried to hide it” if she did.
Young testified she thought the meth may have been powdered bleach at the time of the traffic stop, which was why she said it wouldn’t harm Rice.
Young’s behavior on the stand was somewhat erratic. Under cross examination by Pyle, she asked if her recollections of the day of the traffic stop were relevant. When asked where she lived, Young replied “In hell.”
Wetzel ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for Oct. 18.