Connellsville grandmother acquitted of marijuana possession
By Liz Zemba
Published: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012
Connellsville police did not believe a 67-year-old grandmother when she told them she had no idea the seeds she was given by a bearded stranger in a pointy Smurf hat would yield marijuana plants.
But a jury did.
The panel acquitted Alberta Kelley of 113 S. Cottage Ave., Connellsville, of possession and manufacture of a controlled substance after a two-day trial before Fayette County Judge Steve Leskinen.
"She said she was walking to the community center when some guy with a beard and Smurf hat she did not know gave her the seeds," said Kelley's attorney, Thomas W. Shaffer of Uniontown.
"He told her to plant them, that they would grow the prettiest flowers you've ever seen. So she threw them in the garden," he said.
Police filed the charges last January, alleging they found seven 4-foot-tall marijuana plants growing in Kelley's backyard when they went there to serve an arrest warrant on her grandson in July 2010.
In court documents, police said they learned about the plants from an anonymous tipster. With the warrants for Kelley's grandson in hand, they went to her house.
Officers discovered the cannabis nestled near tomato plants in Kelley's backyard garden.
"When I asked Kelley what the plants were, she stated that she did not know what they were," Officer Wesley Wilson said in a criminal complaint. "She also stated that a man that she did not know gave her the seeds and told her to plant them."
The plants were confiscated and sent to a state police crime lab, which positively identified them as marijuana, weighing in at 138 grams, according to the complaint.
In addition to advising jurors that Kelley was unaware the seeds were marijuana, Shaffer said he pointed out that eight other people resided at her home -- but only his client was charged.
"I told them if you convict her, you might as well start playing, 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,' because it would be unjust," Shaffer said.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Brooks, who prosecuted the case, was not immediately available for comment after the trial. Kelley, who has no criminal record, could not be reached after the trial.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Juveniles waive charges to Fayette court in Connellsville Township assault/robbery
- Falcon band performs at Disney World
- Police seek German Township assailant
- Connellsville area benefits from tourism grant program
- Mt. Pleasant man charged in 2 Connellsville robberies
- Good Friday, Easter Sunday programs planned in Scottdale
- County Line Church to hold live Crucifixion re-enactment
- Connellsville starting early planning for Christmas
- Tenebrae Service to be held Friday at St. Rita church, Connellsville
- No date set for closing on proposed hotel property in Connellsville
- Sister convicted of keeping siblings’ items in Fayette estate battle