Charges held for man arrested in Park Avenue drug bust

CLEARFIELD – The last of the five people arrested in an April raid on a Park Avenue apartment had all of his charges except one held to court Wednesday after a preliminary hearing at Clearfield County Jail.

Rason Battle, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with possession with intent to deliver several types of drugs, possession of drugs and conspiracy to possess drugs.

Battle was charged after police served a search warrant on a second-floor apartment. Officers had received information that drugs were being sold out of the residence, rented by Amber Ickes, 20, who faces similar charges.

Testimony during the hearing revealed that Battle and another man charged, Mario Cumberbatch, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., were found in the apartment’s living room and were handcuffed by officers.

Battle was directed to a chair in the kitchen of the residence. After Battle got up from the chair, Clearfield Borough Police Chief Jeff Rhone testified that a baggie containing a white controlled substance was found on the floor near where Battle was sitting. He also said that the bag was not on the floor before that time.

Clearfield Borough Police Officer Brian Dixon said the material in the bag, which included six rock-like pieces and a white substance, tested positive as cocaine and heroin.

Officers also found marijuana on a coffee table in the apartment’s living room, about $3,000 in cash and a handgun that was reported stolen from a Decatur Township store.

Battle’s attorney, Karl Rominger of Carlisle, asked that Ickes be called in to testify, however she did not do so because the commonwealth agreed that, for purposes of the hearing, Ickes would claim that the drugs found in the apartment were not Battle’s and that the day of the raid was the first time he visited the residence.

Also, Ickes’ attorney was not present to advise his client on what to reveal during testimony and whether she should use the Fifth Amendment (the right not to incriminate oneself).

Battle was charged with receiving stolen property in relation to the handgun, but the commonwealth withdrew the charge. All of the other counts were held to court by Magisterial District Judge Michael Rudella. Battle remains in CCJ in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Ickes is also in CCJ in lieu of $500,000 bail. Cumberbatch is also in CCJ. He is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Lee Jackson, 19, of Pittsburgh, and Trevor Sheaffer, 26, of Clearfield, were also in the apartment when the warrant was served. Jackson is in CCJ in lieu of $500,000 bail. Sheaffer posted bail and is free pending trial.

Battle’s attorney also raised an objection before the start of the hearing Wednesday, one not previously heard by Judge Rudella.

Rominger said he objected to the recording of the hearing by the commonwealth, common practice in a preliminary hearing. Rominger said law outlines that the defendant has the right to record or otherwise write down what happens during a trial but not the commonwealth.

Rominger noted that a court reporter was present for the hearing, taking down testimony during the proceeding.

Rominger also objected to his own voice being recorded on the tape in conjunction with Pennsylvania wiretap laws. Such statutes prohibit the recording of a person’s voice if and only if there is an expectation of privacy.

Preliminary hearings, like trials, are open to the public.

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