A jury of five women and seven men heard opening arguments and testimony Tuesday in the trial of a Delaware man who was caught with more than 50 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in 2013 in Miller County on I-30.
Robert Hoey, 36, faces five to 20 years in prison if found guilty of possession with intent to deliver more than 25 pounds of pot. His cousin and co-defendant, Harry Taylor, 36, pleaded guilty in August 2013 and received a six-year prison sentence. Taylor is currently on parole and testified Tuesday at Hoey’s trial that he is singularly responsible for the drugs.
Taylor said Hoey, with whom he lived in 2013 and with whom he lives in Delaware today, didn’t know he put three tightly packed bales of marijuana in a black trash bag in the trunk of a red rented Chevy Impala Feb. 15, 2013, when the two left Austin for Delaware, when questioned by Hoey’s lawyer, Jasmine Crockett, who has offices in Texarkana and Dallas. Taylor said he packed their luggage, and the pot, without Hoey’s knowledge.
But under questioning from Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black, Taylor couldn’t provide the name of the aunt he’d supposedly gone to visit in Austin or the name of the female friend Hoey had supposedly gone to visit in Austin.
Arkansas State Police Cpl. Bernard Pettit said he pulled the Impala over for traveling too closely. Pettit said both Hoey and Taylor were excessively nervous and that the fast food wrappers, multiple cell phones, and air fresheners he could see in the car made him suspect criminal behavior.
Taylor and Hoey refused when Pettit asked for permission to search the car. Texarkana, Ark., Police Department officer Reggie McAdams testified under questioning from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jeffery Sams that his canine, Gus, alerted to the presence of drugs in the car when the two walked around it. That gave Pettit the authority required to inspect the car’s interior.
Arkansas State Police Special Agent Corwin Battle said he found text messages he believes refer to marijuana and the sale of it on two cell phones, one an iPhone and the other a pre-paid flip phone, which belong to Hoey. The texts refer to “Luke Skywalker,” and “Blue Dream,” names associated with different types of marijuana, Battle said.
Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Black grilled Taylor about his claim that Hoey is innocent.
“You’ve been to prison before for drugs,” Black said. “You know what that’s like. Why wouldn’t you tell those officers on the side of the road that your cousin had nothing to do with this?”
Taylor said he has apologized to Hoey, “a thousand times.”
Black elicited more answers from Taylor which support the state’s theory that both men were involved in moving the marijuana but Taylor steadfastly denied Hoey was involved.
Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson instructed the jury to return to court for closing arguments Wednesday morning. If found guilty, Hoey faces five to 20 years in prison.