CADILLAC — A 31-year-old Kingsley man had his methamphetamine-related case dismissed in 84th District Court after the Wexford County Prosecutor’s Office issued a nolle prosequi.
Nephi Samuel Blackford had a charge of possession of methamphetamine dismissed with prejudice after he was charged for his connection with an incident occurring on Aug. 30 in Cedar Creek Township. A nolle prosequi is a formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit or action.
If convicted, Blackford faced up to 10 years in prison and/or fines as high as $15,000.
Wexford County Prosecutor Jason Elmore said Blackford was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a rollover crash on Aug. 30. The crash was on U.S.-131, a mile south of the M-42 exit. Elmore said the driver fell asleep, lost control and overturned the vehicle. The crash happened at 6:45 p.m., according to Elmore.
When a Michigan State Police trooper arrived on the scene, they found the overturned SUV sustained damage including broken windows, and to the roof. There also was debris around the vehicle including hypodermic needles with an unknown, clear substance, according to Elmore.
With the needles found, Elmore said the responding trooper asked the driver of the vehicle for permission to search the vehicle. The driver permitted the search. The officer also asked Blackford for consent to search his person and his belongings, which he declined, Elmore said.
During the search of the vehicle, the trooper also found and searched a backpack. The bag was later identified as belonging to Blackford. Before the search of the backpack, Blackford had not acknowledged the backpack was his, Elmore said. Within the backpack, the officer located a glass pipe and crystal meth, Elmore said.
Officers are permitted to conduct patdowns of persons and items to determine the presence of weapons for officer safety. However, Elmore said based on a recent supreme court decision he believed the evidence found inside the backpack may have been inadmissible. Therefore, he dismissed the case on Sept. 10 during the probable cause conference and the paperwork was filed by Sept. 13.
In April, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a passenger in a car may challenge a police search of his personal property found in the vehicle. The decision, People v. Mead, overruled the court’s 2007 decision in People v. LaBelle that barred passengers from challenging a search of a car in which they were traveling.
“There is a recent (Michigan Supreme Court) decision that says a driver’s consent to search his car doesn’t include a passenger’s belongings,‘ Elmore said. “In the end, I erred on the side of caution and dismissed the case. I dismissed with prejudice, which means it can’t be brought back up.‘