A Paradise man was found guilty Wednesday of possession of less than one gram of methamphetamine.
A Wise County jury returned the guilty verdict Wednesday afternoon after about two-and-a-half hours of deliberation. Before the trial began, George David Shannon, 55, elected to have 271st District Judge John Fostel assess punishment in the case, which included mandatory probation since Shannon had no prior felony convictions.
Fostel sentenced him to one year in state jail, probated for two years, plus a $2,000 fine.
Shannon had pleaded not guilty at the beginning of his trial Tuesday afternoon.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Berry prosecuted the case and asked the jury to find Shannon guilty after investigators found methamphetamine inside Shannon’s home on July 31, 2012.
Wise County Sheriff’s narcotics investigator Chad Lanier testified that he and two other investigators went to Shannon’s home when they were notified that a tracking device had been removed from a vehicle they were following and ended up at Shannon’s house.
He said they were looking for 32-year-old Daniel Anderson, who was staying in Shannon’s home. A third person, 40-year-old Stacie Davis, was also staying there.
Shannon let the officers come inside to speak to Anderson, and they located an automatic rifle in Anderson’s bedroom. Since Anderson had previously been convicted of a felony, he was placed under arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
After obtaining a search warrant, Lanier searched the home and found numerous drug-related items including syringes, baggies, spoons and small amounts of methamphetamine. In Shannon’s room, Lanier found a bag with methamphetamine residue in Davis’ purse on the bed as well as 0.01 grams of methamphetamine in a bag located inside a sunglasses case on the nightstand beside Shannon’s bed.
Shannon’s attorney, Barry Green, argued that the only item in the house that could have possibly been tied to Shannon was the bag in the sunglasses case on the nightstand, but even that item had not been proven to be in Shannon’s possession.
Green questioned Lanier about why the sunglasses case was not fingerprinted, photographed or even taken into evidence. Lanier also testified that two pipes were found in the bedroom, but those items were not fingerprinted either.
In his closing argument to the jury, Green said it was obvious that Davis had been in Shannon’s bedroom, and drugs were found in her purse – so the state had failed to prove that the drugs on the nightstand were Shannon’s.
“There is no question she was in the bedroom,” Green said. “We have proof – her purse is in there. There are drugs in an eyeglass case in a purple baggie (in the purse). A few feet away, on the nightstand, are drugs in a purple baggie. They are almost identical.”
Green told the jury that if they believed the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs belonged to Shannon, they must find him not guilty.
“Hanging out with bad people is not a crime in this country,” he added.
One point of argument during the trial was connecting the evidence found in Anderson’s room to Shannon. Berry intended to argue that Shannon had knowledge of the drugs in Anderson’s room, which was kept locked. However, Fostel ruled that Berry could not refer to that evidence during his closing argument.
Berry instead focused on the methamphetamine in Shannon’s bedroom, telling the jury it was unreasonable to believe Shannon didn’t know it was there. He also rebutted Green’s argument that the drugs on the nightstand might have been Davis’.
“It makes no sense for her to put that meth on the bedside table and leave her purse open on the bed with more methamphetamine inside,” he said.
After the jury found Shannon guilty, both sides made brief arguments about the length of probation. Green argued that Shannon should receive a sentence similar to Davis, who pleaded guilty in February to possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram and received a one-year sentence probated for two years, along with a $1,000 fine.
Berry pointed out that Shannon’s probation should be lengthier since he had been convicted of misdemeanors three times prior to the felony conviction while Davis had no previous convictions. He also pointed out that Shannon was the owner of the home which was “being used as a drug house in this county.” He wanted a two-year sentence probated for three years and the maximum $2,000 fine.
After the trial, Berry said he would continue to prosecute these types of cases.
“I want to set a standard that methamphetamine is not acceptable in our community,” he said. “My intent with these types of cases is to do just that.”
Anderson is set to plead guilty to his charge of possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram on Monday.
Records on file at the district clerk’s office show that Shannon had previously been indicted for possession of less than a gram of methamphetamine in 2011, but the district attorney’s office had dropped the charge due to lack of evidence.