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Man pleads not guilty to drugs and firearms charges, then testifies drugs were his

Plea will allow Anthony Blakney to pursue issue of search warrant's legality on appeal

May 10, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown man pleaded not guilty to drug and firearms charges Tuesday morning in Washington County Circuit Court, then testified in the afternoon that the drugs were his, helping acquit a New York man charged in the same incident.

Anthony Blakney, 26, of 37 Elizabeth St., pleaded not guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana, possession of cocaine and marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft, possession of a firearm in a drug crime and possession of an unregistered rifle.

 Earlier Tuesday, Blakney unsuccessfully challenged the police search of his home during a suppression hearing, Assistant Public Defender Charles Bailey said.

The not-guilty plea was unusual in that it was with "an agreement upon the statement of facts for the purpose of preserving the suppression issue for appeal," Bailey said.

The plea allows the issue of the search warrant's legality to be pursued on appeal, he said.

Based on the statement of facts, Judge Daniel P. Dwyer found Blakney guilty of all but the paraphernalia charges, Bailey said.

Dwyer then presided over the jury trial of Blakney's co-defendant, Delon D. Williams, 22, of New York City, who was charged with the same offenses.

On Jan. 17, Hagerstown police and the Washington County Narcotics Task Force searched Blakney's home minutes after he allegedly sold drugs to an informant, according to trial testimony.

Blakney and Williams were found in an upstairs bedroom, along with about 11 grams of cocaine and 45 packets of marijuana, according to testimony.

Two pistols and a sawed-off rifle were found in a bureau, the testimony said. A St. Thomas, Pa., man testified one of the pistols was among seven stolen from his home in 2008.

Williams did not testify, but Blakney took the stand. When asked by Williams' attorney, Bernard W. Semler II, if he sold drugs to an informant on Jan. 3 and Jan. 17, Blakney refused to answer, citing his constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Blakney did testify that Williams arrived at his home just minutes before police. Blakney, whom police did not charge with drug distribution to the informant, testified the drugs found in the house were for his personal use.

On cross-examination, Robert Veil, the supervising attorney for the narcotics task force, questioned why he used a digital scale to weigh drugs for his personal use. Blakney testified he did so to make sure "people on the street" did not cheat him.

The jury did not get to consider the weapons charges against Williams. Dwyer granted Semler's motion for judgment of acquittal, saying "no reasonable trier of fact" could conclude Williams knew about the guns.

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