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One of two drug charges dismissed

The Billings County Pioneer of Medora, North Dakota

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MEDORA - What one defense attorney pointed out, and what another did not, made the difference on March 24 whether the cases against two alleged drug traffickers went ahead.

Separate preliminary hearings for Mary Beth Freed, 52, Dickinson, and Donald Beckman, 49, Belfield, were held with each facing a charge of manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, which in this case allegedly is methamphetamine. The charge is a class A felony.

Freed and Beckman were in Medora on Feb. 16, and the odor of drugs was reported coming from a motel room registered to Freed, according to Jeremy Moser, an agent with the Southwest Narcotics Task Force, who testified at the March 24 hearing. Medora's police chief reported the activity to the task force. Freed was stopped for speeding while leaving Medora, and Beckman was a passenger in the vehicle, said Moser. Bench warrants for other charges were served on Beckman and Freed.

Freed's hearing was held first, followed by the hearing for Beckman.

Moser testified that another agent saw Beckman toss a bag into a ditch as he exited the vehicle. It was later determined that the bag included 5 smaller baggies each containing about 5 grams of methamphetamine. Moser said the packaging was such that the drug was intended for future delivery. A leafy green substance, which was later determined to be marijuana, was seen on the vehicle's console, said Moser.

Freed's defense attorney, Jay Greenwood, asked Moser if there was any evidence that Freed transferred the drugs to Beckman. Moser said there was not.

Greenwood argued that no drugs were found on Freed, or that she knew Beckman had drugs, or that there was a transfer between them. He said she was the "unfortunate driver."

District Judge Zane Anderson ruled that Billings County State's Attorney Jay Brovold had shown there was enough probable cause that a crime was committed, and the judge bound the case against Freed over for further proceedings. Anderson noted there was no dispute that the drug involved was methamphetamine.

Freed pleaded not guilty.

As of March 24, Freed remained in custody on a $100,000 bond, which is related to charges she faces in Stark County.

In Beckman's case, Brovold argued that Beckman clearly possessed the drug as Beckman exited the vehicle and tossed the bag into the ditch.

But Beckman's defense attorney, Mary Nordsven, pointed out that the case file didn't include a report or a letter from the state crime laboratory that certified the drugs were in fact methamphetamine. She also said that at most, this was a case of possession, not delivery, and an addict could have that amount of the drug in his or her possession at a time.

Anderson ruled that the charge against Beckman be dismissed because of the lack of a certified laboratory report. He also pointed out that in Beckman's hearing, no one testified as to the date on which Beckman allegedly committed the crime.

Copyright 2011 The Billings County Pioneer, Medora, North Dakota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: March 31, 2011

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