Jury deliberates five minutes to convict Sayles on two counts of distribution

March 23, 2012|By DON AINES |

Edgar Sayles objected to the racial composition of the jury pool, fired his lawyer and acted as his own attorney.

But it took a Washington County Circuit Court jury only five minutes Thursday to convict him on two counts of distribution of crack cocaine.

Sayles, 41, formerly of Hagerstown, had been charged by the Washington County Narcotics Task Force with selling crack cocaine to a confidential informant in April and May 2011.

Before the trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Viki Pauler said Sayles had prior drug convictions and could be sentenced to up to 40 years on the distribution charges.

After the trial, Long delayed sentencing until a presentence investigation is completed.

Before a jury was selected, Sayles told Long that he could not get a fair trial because there were only two black people in the pool of prospective jurors.

“It’s all Caucasians, and none of my peers sit on the jury,” Sayles, who is black, told Long.

“Whether there are white people, black people, or Asians, the computer makes no distinction,” Long told Sayles during a brief hearing in another courtroom.

A court official testified that the computer program selects potential jurors from the rolls of registered voters and licensed drivers, relying on no information about race.

“None of them look like me,” Sayles said.

Sayles then said he wanted to fire his attorney, Alan L. Winik.

“He’s more concerned about what he wants. This is my trial,” Sayles said.

Long told Sayles that was “not a meritorious reason to fire Mr. Winik,” and he would have to represent himself.

“I will show you today it was impossible for me to commit the distribution I am accused of,” Sayles told the jury in his opening statement.

In his cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, Sayles raised questions about the search of the informant and his vehicle before and after the drug buys; the lack of DNA or fingerprint processing of the car; and the fact that video surveillance did not record the actual hand-over of the drugs.

In addition to the two distribution counts, Sayles was also convicted of two counts of possession of cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He was acquitted of two drug paraphernalia charges.

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