LIHUE — A 5th Circuit jury found a Hanamaulu woman not guilty of felony methamphetamine charges on Friday.
Raquel Kahealani Durant, 30, had been charged with third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.
The charges were filed after police found items in a purse and floorboard of a vehicle she was a passenger in on Jan. 9, 2012.
The driver, Ricardo E. Navor Jr., 40, of Lihue, was the subject of a police investigation and a search warrant that was issued and resulted in the stop. Durant and an 11-year-old juvenile were in the vehicle and were initially released after the afternoon stop.
Navor was detained and then arrested when the search warrant resulted in discovering methamphetamine in the vehicle. Upon discovering a meth pipe with residue in a purse, Durant was arrested that same evening.
Durant’s first trial ended in a hung jury in March. Perry emphasized in court that the information in the police report differed from testimony in court as far as Durant having possession of the illegal items.
Court-appointed defense attorney Warren Perry presented a case in the new trial which said the state would not be able to prove that the purse was Durant’s. Navor owned more than one vehicle and the purse didn’t have fingerprints, DNA or identification to indicate it belonged to or was in Durant’s possession, he said.
“If there ever was a case of being in the wrong place and the wrong time, this is it,” Perry said in court.
“I did make the argument and I don’t know if it was accepted by the jury that my client was just an innocent victim of our war on drugs,” Perry said. “We need this war on drugs, but sometimes our warriors are overzealous and just don’t do things quite fairly and perhaps the jury sensed that.”
The co-defendant, Navor, had his case suspended after he was admitted to Kauai Drug Court on May 29, 2013.
Durant may be facing another charge however, as she failed to show for trial on Wednesday as the testimony concluded and closing arguments were being. Without notifying the jury of Durant’s absence, the proceedings were continued until Friday morning and a $50,000 bench warrant was issued for the defendant.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe ordered Durant into custody when she appeared in court on Friday morning. She returned to court for closing arguments and remained in custody until the jury returned with a not guilty verdict shortly after 2 p.m.
Durant was released from custody as County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn said the state may be filing contempt of court charges for failing to appear for court.
No indication was given as to why Durant did not appear.