Judge declares mistrial in Dickinson, N.D., pot case
Two Lithuanian men expecting their jury trial for marijuana possession charges to begin were told they would have to wait Wednesday. A judge declared a mistrial during jury selection because of an issue with a witness, said Stark County State's A...
Two Lithuanian men expecting their jury trial for marijuana possession charges to begin were told they would have to wait Wednesday.
A judge declared a mistrial during jury selection because of an issue with a witness, said Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning.
Arturas Teras and Donatas Jasiulionis are accused of possessing 50 pounds of marijuana in Dickinson in November 2009 and intending to deliver it. Their trial will be rescheduled.
"I needed another highway patrolman who had delivered the marijuana to the state lab (to testify), so when I found out ... I called the defense attorneys and said 'OK I have kind of a surprise witness,'" Henning said.
Since defense attorneys Kelly Armstrong and Mary Nordsven were not made aware of the witness until the day of the trial, Judge William Herauf declared a mistrial, Henning said.
"My position is that didn't comply with our request for discovery, which included requests for any witnesses who would testify at trial, so we objected to his testimony and asked for a dismissal with prejudice, or any alternative excluding his testimony," Armstrong said. "Obviously he did not dismiss the case, which I wish he would have."
He added the case has had prior setbacks and hearings have been rescheduled several times due to requests on both sides.
"They actually both live in California, that's my understanding, and yeah they've been back and forth quite a bit," Armstrong said.
Henning doesn't believe the issue will negatively impact his case.
"I don't think it makes any practical difference," he said.
Armstrong is unsure how the mistrial will affect his case.
"It's hard to tell," he said. "Obviously it's already affected it -- the case won't go to trial this week."
Herauf has denied a request by defense attorneys to suppress the evidence in the case. He also refused to accept a plea agreement which would have kept Jasiulionis and Teras out of jail and on probation.
Herauf declined comment and attempts to reach Nordsven were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.