Canine evidence may be suppressed drug-sniffing dog’s credibility questionedDefense attorneys attempted to prove a local drug sniffing dog is unreliable during a hearing at the Stark County Courthouse Thursday.
Defense attorneys attempted to prove a local drug sniffing dog is unreliable during a hearing at the Stark County Courthouse Thursday.
Arturas Teras of Van Nuys, Calif., and Donatas Jasiulionis of Seattle are charged with allegedly possessing 50 pounds of marijuana and with intent to deliver it, according to their criminal complaints.
They were arrested in November 2009 when North Dakota Highway Patrol canine Sadie allegedly alerted her handler, Trooper Shawn Skogen, that drugs were in the van the men were operating.
Attorneys Mary Nordsven and Kelly Armstrong are trying to suppress evidence against the men.
Skogen said Sadie is trained to sit, scratch or display other behaviors when she smells narcotics. The dog jumped at the van in question, and Skogen said indicated narcotics were
However, Nordsven pointed out that is not what Sadie is trained to do when she smells drugs.
“Sadie is not trained to indicate by jumping up, yes that’s true,” Skogen said.
He said Sadie also was “wanting to sit” after smelling a portion of the vehicle, but didn’t.
Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning pointed out other behaviors Sadie exhibited that may have suggested she smelled drugs.
“It seems to me that there’s some sort of subjective communication here,” Nordsven said.
Roy Engebretson, the dog trainer who trained Sadie, watched footage of the search of the van and said the dog alerted Skogen there was drugs in the van.
“The key is that the handler knows how to read the dog,” Engebretson said.
Other behavioral issues with the dog and procedural issues with officers involved were alleged during the hearing.
Another hearing is scheduled in Dickinson today and the matter is expected to conclude by noon.