A Dickinson man pleaded "not guilty" Monday to charges of keeping controlled substances and illegal firearms in a home with a 3-year-old child.
Darnell Morgan, 22, appeared before Judge Rhonda Ehlis in Stark County District Court Monday on multiple charges.
Morgan was charged in November with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, a Class A felony, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a short-barrel weapon, both Class C felonies, and conspiracy to commit child endangerment, also a Class C felony.
Marijuana and fentanyl, along with firearms, were kept in the apartment of his girlfriend, co-defendant Alexis Hickory, who is the mother of the child.
Hickory will appear in court on similar charges on Jan. 27.
Officer Cori Wallace, a member of the Southwest Narcotics Task Force, testified Monday that officers responded to a domestic disturbance call and detected an odor of marijuana. A search was done that yielded controlled substances being kept and used in the presence of the child and the firearms.
Wallace said a large bag was found that contained roughly 22 "tinfoil bindles" each containing one gram of fentanyl, or roughly 220 individual doses. This suggested the doses were for distribution and not personal possession.
Hickory told officers she was keeping the items for her boyfriend, Morgan, and reportedly Morgan told officers that all of the illegal substances belonged to him, though he was not specific, Detective Casey Brosten, Dickinson Police Department, testified.
Brosten also testified that among the two shotguns and two hand guns found was a short-barrel shotgun.
Morgan's public defender, Mark Sherer, emphasized that Morgan did not live with Hickory, but only visited. Sherer argued that there is no evidence directly connecting Morgan to the drugs or firearms and suggested Hickory was lying to officers.
"It's possible she was blaming someone else to get herself out of trouble," he said. "There's nothing to tie Mr. Morgan to the charges."
In North Dakota, a Class A felony carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine, and fees totaling $1,025. A Class C felony carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail, a $10,000 fine or both, and $525 in fees.
Ehlis upheld that the state had met its burden of proof and the case will proceed to trial.
A trial date has not been set.