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Wrong House Searched, Drug Charges Dropped

What a difference a digit makes. A Creek County judge in September dismissed drug and weapons charges against a Manford couple when defense attorneys argued that police had served a search warrant at the wrong house and prosecutors said a baggy seized at the home did not contain the drug residue they earlier suspected.

After investigating an informant’s claim that he saw a pound of marijuana at a residence numbered 238, police in April served a search warrant at a residence numbered 283 on the same street. The residence was across and down the street from the residence cited by a police tipster. The exterior color of the defendants’ residence was not the color described in the warrant.

Inside the defendants’ single-wide mobile home, Creek County deputies reported finding a gallon-sized plastic baggy, which they said contained a white powdery substance. A probable-cause statement filed in the case said “This substance field tested positive for methamphetamine.” Laboratory testing later produced different results.

Meanwhile, the couple were released on a total of $100,000 in bonds for three charges against each of them – possession of a controlled substance, maintaining a place for keeping or selling drugs and possession of a firearm while in commission of a felony. Each retained an attorney. Neither of the two had any previous criminal record. Police seized a boat, a truck and firearms from the residence.

After charges were dismissed, police returned the boat and firearms. The boat had reportedly been damaged. Creditors repossessed the truck.

One of the defendant’s Bartlesville defense attorney argued that the case should be dismissed with prejudice, so that prosecutors could not refile the charges. At a preliminary hearing, prosecutors asked that the case be dismissed without prejudice after they learned lab results had found no evidence of illegal drugs in the gallon-sized bag police seized.

The judge never ruled on a defense motion to suppress evidence based on indications the court had issued a warrant to search the wrong house. During arguments prior to the case being dismissed, prosecutors alluded to a theory that the couple might have been selling fake drugs, though no evidence mentioned in court records indicates any allegation other than the prosecutor’s statement that the couple – located apparently at random when police searched the wrong house – had been selling drugs. The Creek County judge dismissed the case without prejudice.

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