ATHENS (KYTX) - All that it took was a matter of minutes, four to be exact, for a Henderson County jury of eight women and four men to convict Kevin Ray Rust. Rust, formerly of Gun Barrel City, was convicted of the First Degree Felony offense of Possession of a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Deliver. The swift verdict came at the conclusion of a trial taking place in the 173rd Judicial District Court with Judge Dan Moore presiding.
Assistant District Attorneys Nancy Rumor and Justin Weiner prosecuted the case on behalf of Scott McKee's District Attorney's Office.
The jury heard testimony that shortly after 4:30pm on November 21, 2011, a search warrant was executed on Rust's residence. Entry was made into the home and Rust was found in the hallway leading from his bedroom. Inside the closet in Rust's bedroom members of the Henderson County Sheriff's Offices' Narcotics Task force found what appeared to be a business setup. But this wasn't just any small business; Rust had a desk and shelves filled with narcotics, distribution supplies, and paraphernalia.
Among the various illegal substances that were found were methamphetamine in power and crystal form, marijuana, and several different types of suspected narcotic pills. The closet contained every tool necessary to be a successful drug dealer: scales, marijuana grinders, one hit boxes, razors used to apportion methamphetamines, and over fifty brand new little baggies. Additionally, several baggies were found prepackaged with methamphetamines ready to be purchased. A safe was even found on top of the desk which stored a large amount of cash, drugs, and a little black notebook. The little black notebook served as a buy/sell log listing the names of Rust's clients and the amounts they owed or had paid him.
A cell phone was recovered from the closet which contained multiple pictures of stacks of money that had been spread out for display. Other photos revealed significant amounts of drugs on a tray found in Rust's closet.
Throughout the trial the defense put a strong emphasis on the likelihood of Rust's girlfriend being the owner of the narcotics. However, prosecutors introduced evidence through their final witness that showed that the girlfriend had been in the Henderson County jail weeks before the warrant was executed. She also had not bonded out of jail until four days after the execution of the warrant.
In closing arguments, Weiner asked the jury to use their common sense when deliberating. He took the evidence box of unused baggies and poured them out slowly on the podium in front of them, asking "Whose name would be on this one?"
Larry Finstrom of Dallas, who defended Rust, told the jury in his closing arguments, that a guilty verdict by the jury would not mean anything and would ultimately not make a difference impacting the County's drug problem. Rumar rebutted the claim stating: "I find the defense's remarks offensive. As a jury you have the opportunity to stand up to drug dealers in Henderson County and tell them all that we are coming after each of you, one by one."
Due to the defendant's previous trip to prison, he is facing a prison sentence with a minimum of 15 years and up to life in prison. Judge Dan Moore will sentence the defendant on April 10th at 1:30pm
District Attorney Scott McKee praised the work of the Narcotic Task Force and his office in the successful prosecution of the case. "I seriously disagree with Mr. Finstrom's statement to the jury. Our juries are sick and tired of people who sell drugs in our community and for everyone we put away, our community is just a little safer." said McKee. McKee indicated that he and Sheriff Ray Nutt will continue rooting out those that sell narcotics.