Judge Hears Testimony on Motion to Suppress Evidence in Motel Drug Case

Danielle Christine Yontosh (Provided photo)

Danielle Christine Yontosh (Provided photo)

CLEARFIELD – A motion to suppress evidence in the cases against a former Arizona man and a DuBois woman accused of selling drugs in a motel room was discussed in Clearfield County Court.

This week’s testimony was a continuance of testimony given during Motions Court last week.

Matthew Thomas Marley, 41, and Danielle Yontosh, 42, 324 Knarr St., DuBois are charged with manufacture/delivery/possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy, possession of drug paraphernalia, corruptions of minors, endangering the welfare of children and dealing in proceeds of illegal activity. Both are in the county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail each.

The charges stem from an incident on Sept. 29 at a motel on the Clearfield-Shawville Highway in Lawrence Township when officers found Marley in a room with methamphetamine, traces of drugs, pills, drug paraphernalia and more than $11,000 in cash.

Matthew Thomas Marley (Provided photo)

Matthew Thomas Marley (Provided photo)

Sgt. Crystal Panebianco of the Lawrence Township police testified last week that officers were at the motel to serve a warrant on another individual who was known to reside there. They checked room 227, which was registered to Yontosh.

Panebianco explained at first there was no response to her knocking, but after a third series of knocks she heard a toilet flush. She admitted she thought this was because drugs were being flushed away. She knocked again asking for Yontosh and telling her she needed to open the door.

Instead a man, later identified as Marley, opened the door widely. Marley was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. A small, naked, female child was sitting up in the bed.

This caused Panebianco some concern initially, but there were three, other people in the room. Marely was later identified as the girl’s father, according to court documents.

Senior Deputy Attorney General David Gorman, who is prosecuting the case, asked her why she entered the room. Panebianco explained that she wanted to know what was going on with the child who could have been sexually abused or exposed to drug activity. She also needed to show the people in the room photos of the suspect who was the object of her warrant.

She stated there was a male sitting on a chair and female sitting on the couch.

When Panebianco went into the bathroom she could see water on the floor from the toilet. There was drug paraphernalia on the night stand within reach of the child.

Children, Youth and Family Services was contacted regarding the girl, she testified.

Because of the possible drug activity and in consideration for the officers’ safety, Panebianco had everyone in the room identified and searched. The room was secured and a search warrant was requested.

Yontosh was located in the lobby and brought back to the room within 10 to 15 minutes.

CYS responded within 20 to 30 minutes and took the child into custody, she said.

During cross-examination by Patrick Lavelle, who represents Yontosh, Panebianco stated the purpose of their visit was to locate another suspect who had been there two days prior to this incident.

Lavelle asked why someone flushing a toilet was unusual. She responded that people often flush drugs to avoid charges.

Leanne Nedza, attorney for Marley, had her read another report that stated she did not see the child until she entered the room. Panebianco agreed that she had created this report.

Nedza asked Panebianco about photos taken at the scene. During this series of questions, Panebianco admitted that some items had been moved before the photos were taken, including a bag with drug paraphernalia and items taken from Marley that were placed on to the nightstand.

Panebianco explained that only the pack of cigarettes was placed on the night stand for the photo. The other drug paraphernalia on that stand was there when she entered the room and was within the child’s reach.

Gorman, during re-direct examination, asked Panebianco again if she saw the child before she entered the room and she confirmed she did.

According to a court employee, four people, including an agent with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, testified this week in the continuation of the discussion.

During the preliminary hearing in the Marley case, the agent testified that he/she was notified regarding the activity of room 227. He/she was able to obtain a warrant and the room was searched.

An inventory list included $11,870 found in a grocery bag in a clothes basket, $238 in a jacket, multiple cell phones, a container with various pills in it, a metal container with different pills, pieces of pills, marijuana, a packet of suspected heroin and various drug paraphernalia.

When he/she questioned Marley at the police station, he said he was from Arizona and had connections with a drug cartel. He met Yontosh in Arizona and they moved back to this area, her home state. She knew people in this area who were in the drug business and could introduce him, he said.

Gorman asked for the agent’s opinion on what was going on in that room. He/she replied that it was a drug business.

During her cross examination at the preliminary hearing, Nedza asked if any large quantities of drugs had been found in the room. The agent admitted there wasn’t but that it was likely drugs were being flushed down the toilet as the officers knocked on the door.

Nedza also pointed out the lack of a scale and large amounts of plastic bags for the packaging of drugs. The agent responded by saying that the large amount of money and the way it was found was a clear sign of drug activity.

Nedza said in a phone interview that Marley testified briefly this week, confirming he had stayed overnight in that room. The two other witnesses were other officers who were on the scene that day.

President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman asked both sides to provide briefs on the suppression issue within 40 days. After reviewing that information, he will make his decision.

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