Released by the Rusk County District Attorney's Office
HENDERSON/RUSK COUNTY (KYTX) - On February 4, a jury was selected in the 4th Judicial District Court of Rusk County, Texas. State was represented by Hon. Micheal E. Jimerson, and Defendant was represented by Hon. Joe Shumate.
The case resulted from a traffic stop by Rusk County Sheriff's Department Interdiction K-9 Officer Jason Smith. During the traffic stop Officer Smith detected numerous clues that the defendant Ashanti S. Butler was engaged in the transport of contraband.
The drug dog alerted on the vehicle. The resulting search revealed approximately 200 pounds of marijuana located in the rear hatchback area of the vehicle.
The Defendant, Ashanti S. Butler, contended that she was a young college student returning to her home in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and had no knowledge of marijuana in the vehicle.
The jury heard evidence on February 13-14. This included testimony of Ms. Butler, who told the jury "everyone knows me I would not do anything illegal" and that she had never before been arrested.
Thereafter, the State was permitted to impeach the testimony of the defendant by calling Louisiana State Trooper of the Louisiana Bureau of Investigations, Officer Richard Horton. Officer Horton directly impeached the defendant with his testimony that defendant had been arrested for distribution of Ecstasy previously in Louisiana. The defendant eventually admitted that she had in fact perjured herself before the jury.
The jury deliberated 2 hours before returning a verdict of guilty. Thereafter the jury deliberated approximately 2 hours before returning a sentence of three (3) years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The jury declined to probate the sentence despite finding the defendant had never been convicted of a felony and was probation eligible.
"I want to thank the Rusk County Sheriff's Drug Interdiction Unit as well as the courageous jurors who have sent a strong message that drug traffickers will face a penalty and not probation for moving a quarter-million dollars of marijuana through Rusk County," Rusk County District Attorney Micheal Jimerson said. "On behalf of Rusk County Law Enforcement and the people of Rusk County, I thank the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana State Bureau of Investigation, and particularly Louisiana State Trooper Richard Horton for their willingness to assist us in taking $250,000.00 of marijuana out of the drug dealing organization coffers and a very good drug transporter off the street."