Lawyers seek evidence be tossed in pakalolo case

LIHU’E — Attorneys for three men who were arrested for commercial promotion of marijuana have asked a judge to toss out most of the evidence in the case, arguing it was obtained based on a warrant-less search of a package.

Attorneys for Jay S. Robertson, David Hibbitt and Nathan Prather said U.S. Postal Service workers examined a box in California without a warrant after the box was found to have a hole in it and postal service officials said they smelled marijuana in the package.

Attorney Daniel Hempey, representing Robertson, in September filed a motion to have the court declare the search warrant that was executed at Robertson’s home invalid, and that any evidence found not be admitted at trial.

Since then, Samuel P. King Jr., representing Hibbitt, and Caren Dannemeyer, representing Prather, joined in Hempey’s motion.

Hempey argued that the federal search warrant delivered by Kaua’i Police Department officers and others on Robertson’s ‘Oma’o home was based on a March 10, warrant-less search of a box that held almost 11 pounds of marijuana, in California.

Because of the warrant-less search of the package in California, any and all evidence gathered should not be admissible in court, Hempey argued.

According to court records, KPD officers pointed out that an approximately one-inch hole had been made in an 18-by-18-by-16-inch cardboard box during normal mail-processing operations at a U.S. Postal Service mail center at the San Francisco International Airport.

When a closer look was taken at the box, postal officials said they smelled marijuana through the hole.

Hempey argued in court papers that postal officials illegally searched, and then sniffed at the contents of the box, without a warrant.

King argued that it is unlikely that the box was damaged during normal mail-processing operations.

According to court records, on March 14 a federal search warrant was obtained, and the box was opened.

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