CLEARFIELD – Police officers and sheriff deputies lined the courtroom and nearby corridors for the first day of a drug trial in Clearfield County Court.
Up to $3.5 million worth of cocaine was in the courthouse Monday, prompting uniformed and plain-clothes officers to be on standby.
The drugs were there as two men, Hugo Leal Flores of Mexico and Arnulfo Uresti of Brownsville, Texas, were on trial for several counts including felony possession with the intent to deliver cocaine. The men are alleged to have been transporting 60 pounds of cocaine when the tractor-trailer Uresti was driving was stopped by police for an obscured license plate and a dangling strap. Flores was a passenger in the truck.
The afternoon of day one showed the completion of testimony from the arresting officer, Trooper Brett Hanlon and testimony from Roscoe G. Bennett, the forensic scientist with the state police crime lab in Erie, who confirmed that the drugs in question were cocaine.
Bennett testified that he used a “commonly accepted scientific practice” for deciding to test 12 “bricks” from a box that contained 26 items and both “bricks” from the box that contained only two.
Steve Jarrett, attorney for Uresti, said, “You’re really relying on statistics in forming your opinion that they all contain cocaine.”
Jarrett then asked that Bennett open all of the “bricks,” including those not tested in the laboratory.
Bennett earlier told the jury that when he did his sampling to determine the validity of the drug, he did so in a hood, a device that prevents any powder from being inhaled by the tester.
Clearfield County Judge Paul E. Cherry, who is presiding over the three-day trial, stopped Jarrett’s request, saying, “I’m not going to allow cocaine to be opened in my courtroom.”
The drugs were removed from the courthouse after jurors were dismissed for the day.
The trial continues Tuesday at 9 a.m. as the commonwealth continues to outline its case.