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Defendants want evidence thrown out

Two defendants facing drug charges are seeking to have evidence seized in a warrantless search last year by Kaua’i Police Department narcotics officers thrown out of court.

Joe-Ana Aki-Sugai and Crystal Battulayan are attempting to suppress all evidence vice officers recovered before a search warrant was issued for the vehicle the two had been passengers in. The search uncovered a plastic bag alleged to contain drugs.

The pairs attorneys claim the vice officers did not have a search warrant to search the car until later.

Aki-Sugai’s attorney Daniel Hempey wrote in court records that the search warrant was granted based on an initial warrantless search that took place last July.

Battulayan’s attorney Michael Soong wrote in court records that the evidence was seized without state and federal constitutional justification, and require that the evidence be suppressed.

A hearing about suppressing the evidence is scheduled to take place Thursday before Circuit Court Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe. Court records show that subpoenas have been issued for two vice officers involved in the case to appear in court to testify.

A jury trial is scheduled for April 17.

According to court records, the defendants were charged after narcotics officers followed another person to Ahukini Landing on the night of July 18. That person’s car was parked between two other cars, and the officers had a search warrant for that person and car, court records show.

The vice officers approached the parked cars, and ordered everybody out.

Aki-Sugai and Battulayan were passengers in one of the other cars, according to court records.

Court records show that one of the officers looked into the car that the two defendants were in, and saw what appeared to be a plastic bag allegedly containing drugs.

According to court records, a search warrant for the car the defendants were in was obtained two days after the Ahukini bust, and police officers allegedly found methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Aki-Sugai, 23, faces six felony drug charges, one petty misdemeanor drug charge, and a misdemeanor drug charge. If convicted on all counts, Aki-Sugai could be sent to prison for 31 years.

Battulayan, 32, faces four felony drug charges and a petty misdemeanor drug charge. If convicted on all counts, she could be in prison for 20 years.

Battulayan is being held at the Kaua’i Community Correctional Center on $20,000 bail. Aki-Sugai was released after posting $5,000 bail.

The driver of the car the pair were in was also charged with drug counts.

Lynn Prem was sentenced to prison in December on two felony drug counts. She was sentenced for five years on each count, to run concurrently, along with a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 months, on both counts, to run concurrently.

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