CLEARFIELD – A Morrisdale man found with over 50 grams of methamphetamine in the Clearfield Wal-Mart parking lot was found guilty Wednesday on drug delivery and possession charges.
Brandon J. Kifer, 38, was found guilty on the charges of felony manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, plus misdemeanor intentional possession of a controlled substance and use/possession of drug paraphernalia. He was found not guilty of DUI/controlled substance.
Jurors entered into their deliberations at 5 p.m. and returned with a verdict approximately 25 minutes later. Kifer remains incarcerated in lieu of $100,000 bail.
First Assistant District Attorney Ryan Dobo prosecuted the case on behalf of the commonwealth. Kifer was represented by defense attorneys Leanne Nedza and Steven Johnston of the Public Defender’s office. President Judge Fredric Ammerman presided over the case.
The charges stemmed from a welfare check that occurred at approximately 1:51 p.m. Dec. 7, 2018 at the Clearfield Wal-Mart Supercenter, according to testimony from Lawrence Township Police Chief Douglas Clark.
Clark said an initial call was received concerning a male who was passed out behind the wheel of his pick-up truck that was on the curb in front of the store. Later on, he said police were notified the vehicle had moved and was located at the back of the parking lot.
Upon arrival on-scene, Clark saw the male slumped over in the driver’s seat with the vehicle still running, and officers had to bang loudly on the window for a minute or two before he woke up. “It wasn’t just a little knock,” he testified.
He said the male, now positively identified as Kifer, was lethargic, had slurred and raspy speech, a staggered gait, etc., and he appeared to be under the influence of something.
Officer Eric Routch said he administered a series of field sobriety and advanced roadside impaired driving tests, and Kifer displayed signs of being under the influence.
He also said Kifer admitted to having taken one Subutex pill and agreed to an evaluation by a Drug Recognition Expert. DRE Elliott Neeper was contacted by Clark and asked to respond to the township police station.
Clark said Kifer was then placed under arrest for the suspicion of DUI, and he conducted a “pat-down” search for officer safety purposes.
He said in Kifer’s hoodie pocket, he found a rubber glove containing two baggies of a crystalized substance, which he immediately was able to identify as methamphetamine. He also located a capped syringe in a front pants pocket and over $1,300 in Kifer’s wallet.
Based upon past drug enforcement experience, he estimated each baggie contained approximately one ounce. Because it was a large amount of the drug, he said it wasn’t just for personal use, adding users often sell drugs to support their habit.
During his drug examination, Neeper said he also observed signs of impairment as well as a substance in Kifer’s nasal cavity that glowed when exposed to light. In an interview, he said Kifer also admitted to having snorted Subutex, which was consistent with his previous finding.
He determined Kifer was under the influence of a central nervous system stimulant and incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. He said Kifer agreed to submit to a legal blood draw and was transported to the Clearfield Penn Highlands Hospital; however, the phlebotomist was unable to collect enough blood for laboratory testing.
Routch said while Kifer was being evaluated by the DRE, he weighed the seized methamphetamine to get a general idea of its weight. He said the department doesn’t have a “certified” scale, and it estimated Kifer had 61 grams of the drug.
Later, he said the methamphetamine was sent to the Pennsylvania State Police Erie Regional Crime Laboratory for further analysis. Routch said the lab report indicated the drug was methamphetamine and weighed 53.33 grams.
Trooper Aaron Tiracorda said he was contacted to have his K-9 Tom scan the large sum of cash police found in Kifer’s wallet to determine if it had been in the vicinity of drugs. He said K-9 Tom immediately stopped and alerted when it reached the seized cash.
During her closing arguments, Nedza said the commonwealth’s case was riddled with inconsistencies and errors, and she asked jurors to find Kifer not guilty.
However, Dobo countered, saying these were all relatively minor and didn’t change the fact that Kifer was found passed out at Wal-Mart with a large amount of methamphetamine and cash in his possession.