2 area men face life in prison; busted for allegedly having cocainePolice find cocaine in tree, residents claim innocent of possession
By: By Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
Nathaniel Williams and Matthew French of Dickinson pleaded not guilty to possessing about 77 grams of cocaine with intention to deliver, during a hearing at the Stark County Courthouse Monday.
Authorities say French claimed ownership of the cocaine which police found in a tree outside his and Williams’ apartment.
“Immediately, Mr. Nathanial Williams stated ‘that’s not mine,’” Dickinson Police Department Officer Jeremy Moser testified.
However, Jim Hope, Stark County assistant state’s attorney, said text messages on Williams’ cellphone give him reason to believe Williams was also selling cocaine.
Moser said police, who had a search warrant, broke down the apartment door.
“The cocaine was found in a black sock hanging from the tree just off the balcony of the residence,” Moser said. “I’m not sure exactly his words but (French) said it was unfortunate that it landed in the tree. He had tried to make it in his neighbor’s yard.”
There were also allegedly scales and other paraphernalia on the balcony and in the apartment, he said.
Thomas Murtha, Williams’ attorney, said there was not enough evidence to warrant the charge against Williams.
“The cellphone would lead one to believe that Mr. Williams was involved in the sale of cocaine as well and that Mr. French may have been taking sole blame for a joint enterprise and that’s the state’s position,” Hope said.
Judge H. Patrick Weir found probable cause to move forward with both cases.
He also lowered Williams’ bond from $50,000 cash to $5,000 cash or surety.
“But there is going to be an additional $4,500 unsecured so that if he bails out and then leaves the state or violates the terms of his release, he will be subject to not only forfeiture of the surety bond, but $4,500 in addition,” Weir said.
Both men face Class AA felonies, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
French also faces two counts of burglary, a Class C felony, for unrelated events. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.
French is accused of entering an apartment in Dickinson on two separate occasions and taking about $700, watches, baseball caps, shoes and more.
He faces an additional five years and $5,000 for each burglary count. His bond is $50,000.