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Appeals court upholds Pittsburgh ruling on destroyed evidence

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Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, 7:34 p.m.

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a Pittsburgh judge's ruling that city police didn't realize charges were still pending in a federal drug case when they destroyed evidence.

Tiona Jones, 33, of Beechview pleaded guilty in June 2011 to possessing more than 100 grams of heroin and is serving a five-year prison sentence. She retained the right to appeal U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond's decision refusing her motion to throw out the case after police reported they had destroyed the evidence.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Diamond that there was no evidence the police knew the case was pending when they destroyed the heroin and Jones' change purse while clearing out a drug-evidence room that had a ventilation problem. If the court had overturned Diamond, Jones could have withdrawn her guilty plea.

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