Heroin defendant pleads 'no contest' in wake of hung jury

Cary Ashby • Jan 23, 2013 at 5:07 PM

A Willard man pleaded "no contest" to possession of heroin Tuesday -- several days after there was a hung jury on the same fourth-degree felony.

After entering the plea, David A. Dalton, 43, of 313-A Woodland Ave., was found guilty by Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway. Dalton will be sentenced March 7 and faces six to 18 months behind bars.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper said the defendant wasn't contesting the truth of the charges.

"He's not saying the testimony was accurate," Kasper added. "I think that based on being convicted of this offense, he'll be held accountable."

Kasper, in a plea deal, said the state wouldn't oppose Dalton being sentenced to community control sanctions, which could include local jail time.

The conviction is for a July 23 incident when Willard police officers used a "knock and announce" search warrant at Dalton's apartment. Detective Jeremy Draper obtained the warrant after he received a tip about suspected drug activity at Dalton's apartment, conducted surveillance and searched through individual trash bags in a Dumpster that the detective determined serviced Dalton's residence.

Draper, who searched Dalton's bedroom July 23, testified he found a capped syringe, spoon, a cotton swab, an open knife and some "bloody tissues" on top of a dresser. He said the top drawer held men's clothes, a bag of heroin spindles in a bag and a dinner plate with "powdered residue." Draper identified the items using photos that were displayed to jurors on a projection screen.

Regarding the contents of the two trash bags he found in the Dumpster, Draper testified he found some used cotton -- which later field-tested positive for heroin -- and a piece of tin foil, which was burned on one side and had suspected heroin-related "head lines" on the other.

After deliberating for about 4 1/2 hours Friday, the jury didn't reach a verdict on one count each of possession of heroin and possession of criminal tools.

The court, in mid-November, denied defense attorney Reese Wineman's motion to suppress evidence. He had argued that police "clearly failed to establish there was probable cause (that Dalton) was engaged in criminal activity of any kind" other than the items recovered in the Dumpster and Draper reportedly seeing "a substantial amount of traffic going in and out of the defendant's apartment."

Dalton has "a number" of previous convictions for possessing and trafficking heroin in Huron County and other counties, Kasper said.

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