GALLIPOLIS — A Vinton man was convicted Tuesday in the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas of illegal conveyance of drugs into a detention facility, one count of possession of heroin and one count of possession of cocaine.
Dustin Deckard, 34, was originally arrested in February for receiving stolen property by the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. Deckard is expected to be sentenced at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 31.
Conveyance of illegal drugs into a jail is considered a third-degree felony and can carry up to 36 months in jail. The possession of the drugs charge is considered a fifth-degree felony.
A jury trial found Deckard guilty of the crimes leveled against him. Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins said there is some question as to how Gallia Common Pleas Judge Dean Evans will rule in the sentencing in accordance with merger doctrine.
Due to the Fifth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, double jeopardy states a individual cannot be sentenced for the same crime twice. Merger doctrine, in layman’s terms, states that when a defendant commits two separate crimes in the same act, he can be considered to have committed one crime, hence the crimes are considered merged into one.
“Basically, the corrections officer on duty smelled what they felt was a burning smell,” Adkins said. “So they went back into the cells (in the Gallia County Jail) where they thought it was. They handcuffed the inmates to the bars so they can’t try to hide anything (during a shakedown). Officers found a package of drugs basically (in his lower body cavity) pinched in there.”
The crime reportedly occurred Feb. 29.
Adkins said there was a lot of circumstantial evidence in the case as officers did not initially discover drugs on Deckard’s person, but the jury could still consider it as evidence. Law enforcement can search an inmate’s person when they are brought to the jail, but are not allowed to execute cavity searches without probable cause.
Drugs in the package allegedly consisted of marijuana, a few pills of Diazepam, a dark brown substance considered to be heroin, powdered cocaine and alprazolam.
Adkins thanked the officers for their quick work and noted he was pleased that these drugs would were not able to make their way into into the general jail population.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.