Most-serious drug charges dropped against IUP student
A district judge has dismissed the most serious charges filed against one of two Indiana University of Pennsylvania students, who Greensburg police said had about a half-pound of marijuana in a rental vehicle they stopped in October.
On Thursday, Greensburg District Judge James Albert tossed charges of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia filed against Justin King, 24, of 561 Water St., Indiana.
After a preliminary hearing, Albert held King for trial on charges of conspiracy and possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Co-defendant India Denise McMiller, 22, of 271 Nixon Ave., Indiana, will face trial on the same charges originally filed against King, plus criminal use of a communication facility — a cell phone.
Greensburg Patrolman Kerry Dieter testified he stopped the white Chevrolet Malibu rental vehicle McMiller was driving on New Alexandria Road about 1 a.m. Oct. 23 after she failed to use a turn signal.
Dieter said other officers had told him about drugs allegedly being sold out of a white Chevrolet Malibu.
“They both said they were IUP students,” Dieter said. “I asked why they were in Greensburg.”
King said he was heading to a friend's house. Dieter testified the friend “was known to me as a drug user/seller.”
Greensburg Patrolman Charles Irvin then spotted a small bag with suspected marijuana in the car's center console, Dieter said. He found two burned “blunts,” or thick marijuana cigarettes, in a passenger-door compartment near King and $1,139 on King, Dieter said.
During a later search, police found about a half-pound of marijuana inside a bookbag in the trunk. Papers with McMiller's name on them were in the bookbag, Dieter said.
An analysis of texted messages on McMiller's seized cell phone turned up “multiple conversations ... about acquiring narcotics of various (sorts),” Dieter said.
At least one message involved a “Justin,” but police were unable to identify that person further, the officer said.
King's attorney, Ron Chicka, argued charges should be dismissed against his client.
“The commonwealth had to show that Mr. King, in this situation, had the ability to control the contraband in the trunk,” Chicka said, adding the prosecution had failed to do so.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.