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Jury unable to reach verdict in handgun charge

July 20, 2010|By DON AINES

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown man charged with carrying a handgun in a vehicle could be tried again after a Washington County Circuit Court jury this week failed to reach a verdict.

Preston Dwight Weedon, 22, of 36 E. Franklin St., Apt. 2, had been charged by the Hagerstown Police Department following a traffic stop at 1:16 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2009, according to the statement of probable cause. Preston was sitting in the right rear passenger seat when the car was stopped and the .357-magnum revolver was found in a backpack under the front passenger's seat, the statement said.

The jury announced Monday about 7 p.m. that it could not reach a unanimous verdict following three hours of deliberations, Assistant State's Attorney Michele Hansen said. The state intends to try the case again, she said.

Bullets of the same caliber as the handgun were found in the possession of another back seat passenger, Hansen said in her opening statement.

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Just before the trial was to begin, Assistant Public Defender Robert Sheehan introduced a motion to suppress the gun, telling Judge W. Kennedy Boone III that police had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion for a warrantless search of the car.

During the hearing on Sheehan's motion to suppress, Officer Thomas Kelley testified that police were being dispatched to Salem Avenue for a report of a theft. Kelley testified the dispatch included the descriptions of two men, but not a vehicle.

On the way to the scene, Kelley testified he saw a car pass in the opposite direction with two occupants who fit the description. The car was stopped and the driver gave his consent to search the vehicle, he testified.

The driver, Travis Walton, testified he consented to the search.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I thought, why not?" Walton said.

Boone denied the motion to exclude the gun.

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