Not guilty - informant was a sex offender: Defense
COURT: Defense Questioned Use of Informant; Man Found Not Guilty
Friday, March 2, 2018 - WLBG on-line
A Clinton man was found “not guilty” of drug charges this week, after his defense questioned the use of a sex offender as a confidential informant in a drug transaction. 35-year-old Alexander Simmons of 111-A North Bell Street, Clinton was not convicted on charges of Possession of Crack Cocaine to Distribute in proximity of a school, park or playground.
The defense opened with the argument that the confidential informant, who set up the sale, was a convicted sex offender, and therefore, his testimony could not be trusted.
Clinton Public Safety Captain Tyrone Goggins explained how his department uses informants, saying that at the time of the alleged drug transaction, the informant had no pending charges. Detective Goggins also explained that it’s a common practice to use previously convicted offenders who volunteer for the job to sort of redeem themselves. He said police could only recommend that their service in the drug sale be considered in regard to their charges. He said that in this specific case, the informant used in the undercover drug sale just wanted to receive the customary $50 pay to set up a drug sale.
The prosecution submitted an audio recording as proof of a call to arrange the drug sale between the informant and defendant, and a video tape that was recorded by the informant at the time of the sale. Sargent Prather testified that he monitored the informant at the sale. Defense Attorney Scarlet Moore of Greenville asked Sgt. Prather if he knew the informant was a registered sex offender, and , if so, why he was sent to a park. Prather replied, “We monitored the entire sale and we were only seconds away if anything gets out of hand.” Sgt. Prather also said that to set up a bogus drug deal you have to use someone that is known to the dealer, you can’t just go into a local church and find someone to do that job.
Douglas Robinson, a chemist from SLED, testified that the substance turned over for evidence was in fact, crack cocaine.
In her closing argument, Defense Attorney Scarlet Moore of Greenville told the jury that the video was not definitive enough to show the actual drug being sold, and that in the audio recording you could not hear Simmons voice, and that the confidential informant could not be trusted to offer truthful testimony.
The jury returned a “not guilty” verdict.