Driver guilty in dope possession case

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:13 PM

A jury found a Toledo man guilty of helping ship 160 pounds of marijuana from Phoenix to Huron County after a two-day Huron County Common Pleas Court trial ended Wednesday.

Several officers who testified Tuesday identified John E. Nunley Jr., 35, as the driver of a 2002 black Chevrolet pickup truck that carried four crates of marijuana from R & L Transfer on Sept. 20. Authorities from several agencies arrested Nunley and two suspected accomplices on U.S. 250 north of Milan after following the two vehicles from the rural Norwalk business.

Nunley faces a mandatory eight-year prison term when he is sentenced May 9 for possession of marijuana because of the amount involved.

The driver of the Dodge Durango that followed Nunley, Marcos M. Jaso, 35, is going to trial on possession of marijuana July 15. One week earlier, Carlos Torres Jr., 30, also of Toledo, is scheduled to go to trial on a similar charge.

After jurors returned a guilty verdict following about three hours of deliberation Wednesday, Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway revoked Nunley’s bond at the state’s request. That means the defendant will remain in custody at the Huron County Jail until he is sentenced.

Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said the judge must have thought Nunley might not show up for his sentencing hearing because of the “magnitude” of the offense.

Earl Gliem, of the Ohio Bureau of Investigation and Identification (BCI&I), testified Wednesday “there is no doubt” Nunley’s fingerprint was on black trash bags that held the marijuana. The forensic scientist analyzed the fingerprints on the black trash bags that held eight bricks of marijuana.

Gliem, who said fingerprints are “biologically unique,” determined one of the prints was from Nunley’s right middle finger. The witness said he also found four separate prints for Torres, but none belonging to Jaso.

The three defendants are accused of shipping marijuana from Phoenix to Norwalk in four heavily insulated crates. Witnesses said Tuesday that Torres rode with Nunley, who was driving the truck carrying the crates of marijuana, for a time after receiving the shipment at R & L until he got out and entered the Durango driven by Jaso.

“The package was sent to Carlos Torres,” Leffler said in his closing statement. “We know John Nunley apparently is the shipper.”

The prosecutor said there is no excuse for Nunley to have the contact information for the Phoenix branch of R & L in his wallet “because he shipped them out of there.” The slip of paper plus another with dimensions for the crates were seized as evidence Sept. 20 and presented in court Wednesday.

“He’s not just interested in them; he built them,” Leffler said. “A man’s wallet is his personal thing. … What you have in there is your personal business.”

Jurors could study four professional cards identifying Nunley as a carpenter when they started deliberating late Wednesday afternoon.

Leffler talked to the jury about a shipping document tying Nunley to R & L and the crates of marijuana. The prosecutor argued that someone might make their signature “unreadable” if that person was sending 160 pounds of marijuana to another state.

“He’s not just some bit player. He’s involved in this thing,” Leffler said.

Defense attorney James VanDeilen told jurors Leffler was asking them to fill too many blanks with their common sense. Nunley’s attorney said it’s “a huge jump” to believe Nunley put his fingerprints on the trash bags when he “knew” they were full of marijuana.

“It’s all guesswork,” said VanDeilen, who presented no witnesses. “There’s nothing connecting John Nunley to that package except a reported fingerprint.

“John is being used by other people,” he said. “John is a pawn.”

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