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Baltimore man acquitted of possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia

June 03, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

After a brief deliberation, a Washington County Circuit Court jury this week found a Baltimore man not guilty of distribution of cocaine.

Aaron Cole, 29, also was acquitted Tuesday of possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Before the jury began deliberating, Judge Daniel P. Dwyer granted a defense motion to dismiss a criminal conspiracy charge.

The Washington County Narcotics Task Force charged Cole following a controlled purchase of cocaine on Dec. 6, 2010, in the 400 block of Park Place, according to the statement of probable cause.

A confidential narcotics informant arranged to buy drugs through a woman, Delishia Bender, who used the informant's cellphone to set up the purchase, Agent Frank Tosten testified.

The informant and Bender drove to Park Place, where a man came out from behind a row of houses and allegedly handed Bender the cocaine in exchange for $60, the charging documents said.  Bender, who described herself as a prostitute, testified that the man was Cole.

Tosten testified that Bender was confronted by agents shortly after she returned to the informant's car and agreed to make another call to buy more drugs.

After making the call, three males came out of one house and police detained them, the documents said. One of the men had a cellphone with the informant's phone number on its recently called list, as well as five pieces of crack cocaine, according to trial testimony.

One of the others, a juvenile, had the $60 in recorded bills Bender ussed earlier to buy cocaine, according to trial testimony.

Agents went to the house where the three men had come from, and the tenant consented to a search, Agent David Fortson testified. Cole was found upstairs, and Fortson testified he was the man he saw through binoculars meeting with Bender, although he could not see drugs change hands.

"This is going to be my first distribution" Cole said, according to Fortson's testimony.

Bender had been offered lesser charges for her cooperation, but disappeared shortly after making bail, Tosten testified. She was picked up on warrants in Washington, D.C., about a week ago, he testified.

Defense attorneys Clarke Ahlers and James Elliott attacked the credibility of Bender and the informant — who did not testify — and lack of evidence tying Cole directly to the cocaine Bender gave the informant.

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