LIHUE — A 5th Circuit jury took just over one hour to find a Koloa woman not guilty of felony methamphetamine and marijuana possession charges on Wednesday following a two-day trial.
LaFrance Bergonia, 49, was arrested Jan. 2, 2013, on charges of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, third-degree promotion of a detrimental drug and third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.
The charges stemmed from a July 27, 2012, incident and resulted in criminal indictment.
Court-appointed defense attorney Craig De Costa argued that Bergonia was a passenger in a vehicle with two others and that the driver was the target of a police drug investigation. After the vehicle was stopped, Bergonia’s identification and wallet were found inside a bag that did not belong to her but also contained drugs.
Bergonia has no criminal record and was not the subject of the search, he added. She did not testify in the trial.
“This was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” De Costa said.
The prosecution could not show a connection between the defendant’s items and the other items in the bag or the vehicle, De Costa said.
“When asked if it was her bag, she said immediately that it was not,” he said. “There was no follow up to see if it belonged to her and this was the reason for the charges.”
Chief Judge Randal Valenciano presided over the trial. The state was represented by County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn. Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar didn’t return a message Wednesday.
The two co-defendants in the vehicle have separate cases.
Loretta Navales, 43, of Koloa, was charged with cocaine and marijuana possession charges. She has a jury trial date of Feb. 23,
Reynaldo Jacinto Abrigo, 44, of Lihue, was charged with methamphetamine possession and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia. He was accepted into Kauai Drug Court on Nov. 19, 2014.