Appeal planned in drug conviction

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2001

A Brookhaven man is facing up to 30 years in prison after beingconvicted Monday of unlawful possession of crystal methamphetaminewith intent to distribute.

The jury needed about 40 minutes to convict William E. “Bill”Cannon, 44, of 434 Greenwood Lane, of the charge during the one-daytrial. Sentencing is scheduled for next Monday before Judge MikeSmith.

Jurors apparently believed testimony from Lincoln CountyNarcotics Officer Chris Picou, who said Cannon confessed to owningthe drugs several times during conversations following a March 26incident that led to the charge against him.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“It doesn’t get any better than a confession,” AssistantDistrict Attorney Tim Howard told jurors during closingarguments.

During his testimony, Picou said the confession came duringdiscussions about Cannon possibly working as an informant for thesheriff’s department.

“I spoke with Mr. Cannon on a daily basis for several weeks,”Picou said.

Defense attorney Kevin Camp, however, disputed the confessionand said it never happened.

With Picou on the witness stand, Camp said he was involved inconversations between officers and Cannon and suggested thedefendant never confessed. Picou said the attorney would be lyingif he claimed Cannon did not confess.

In his closing arguments, Camp called the case ridiculous andsaid the prosecution could not prove its case without theconfession, which he again said did not happen.

Following the verdict, the attorney said he was very muchdisappointed and shocked. An appeal is planned.

“I thought we proved he did not do the charge he was accusedof,” Camp said.

Cannon did not testify and the defense did not call anywitnesses on his behalf. Camp said the prosecution had failed tomeet its burden of proof.

“They hadn’t proven their case at all,” Camp said.

According to testimony, Cannon was stopped around 6:30 a.m. onMarch 26 by Brookhaven police after he was found in a car blockingtraffic near the intersection of Brookway Boulevard and MonticelloStreet. Office Clint Earls said the driver was incoherent.

“I thought the subject may be somewhat impaired, but I didn’tknow for what reason,” Earls said.

Earls said the driver was able to walk and handle two dogs thatwere in the car with him. He was issued a warning following theincident.

Once Cannon was identified and knowing of his past trouble withthe law, Earls said Picou was called to the scene. Under crossexamination, Earls said he never saw Cannon with the crystalmethamphetamine.

The drugs were found by Picou in a small canister withcamouflage tape about 10 feet from Cannon’s vehicle. When pointedout, Picou said Cannon denied ownership without looking at thecanister, but later admitted it was his.

From past experiences, Picou said he knew Cannon to hide drugsin a canister with camouflage tape.

In a prosecution effort to show intent to distribute, NarcoticsOfficer Dustin Bairfield said several hundred small baggies usedmainly in drug dealing and camouflage tape were found during asearch at Cannon’s home in early March. Also, a man who pleadedguilty to Pike County methamphetamine charges earlier Mondaytestified in the afternoon that Cannon had supplied him with drugsseveral times prior to March 26.

Cannon is facing trials on several other crystalmethamphetamine-related charges. Jurors Monday did not heartestimony about his other charges.

Howard, a new assistant district attorney trying his first caseas lead prosecutor, expressed appreciation to the sheriff’sdepartment and Picou for their help in getting a conviction.

“We could not have done it without them,” Howard said.