News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Trial ordered for one of nine defendants in meth ring bust
Aug 20, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Timothy Pitt is headed to trial Sept. 16 after being accused of leading a meth distribution ring in Fremont County. Prosecutors have said a cooperating witness will testify against the Hudson man in court.
"It's either a cold plea or a trial," said Wyoming 9th Judicial District Judge Norman E. Young at a pre-trial hearing Friday. "I have on occasion extended that (plea agreement deadline) if I think something is being discussed, but I don't think that's the case."
Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Bennett and defense attorney Devon Petersen agreed and said they thought the trial would last one week.
Pitt faces one charge of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
He was among nine people arrested in May in an extensive countywide drug investigation that involved wiretapping, surveillance and the use of confidential informants. In an affidavit, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agent Brady Patrick alleges that Pitt headed the drug distribution network.
Young had stern words for the prosecution after Petersen said the state had not provided him with all the evidence it had against the defendant.
Bennett responded by saying law enforcement agencies had not yet provided him with some of that information.
The judge acknowledged the prosecution had no direct authority over law enforcement but warned against prosecutors causing delays themselves.
"My strong preference would be that it be done straight up and no games be played," Young said.
Petersen noted delays in securing the criminal backgrounds of witnesses for the prosecution and the legal basis for investigations into Pitt's phone communications.
The investigation of the alleged drug ring involved phone taps that intercepted calls between Pitt and others, Petersen said. He thought the state would use the calls in its case against the defendant.
For the calls to be admissible in court, they had to be intercepted following Wyoming statute, but prosecutors have not provided evidence that demonstrates law enforcement followed state law in performing the wiretaps, Petersen said.
"I don't know whether the interception was done in accordance with that act ... (and) the statute entitles Mr. Pitt to that discovery," Petersen said.
Similarly, prosecutors plan to use information obtained through a "trap and trace" device that tracked who Pitt contacted and who contacted him but not the content of the messages, Petersen said. A court order is necessary for such an investigation, but the defense has not received the order.
"In absence of that (court order), I would object to that evidence," Petersen said.
He asked the court to order the state to provide that evidence to him.
Bennett said the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations and the FBI had the evidence showing the legality of both investigations, but the agencies have not provided it to him yet.
Young said the only judge who could have signed those orders was himself.
"The notion a defendant would have to fight to get that material after I've signed those warrants ... it's not something (prosecutors) want me to have in the back of my mind the next time they come into my office with a 25-page warrant for me to sign," he said.
The issues over evidence also threatened to derail the case.
Young ordered the prosecutors to produce the material by Friday or they will not be able to use it in court.
Young denied a motion from Petersen to dismiss the case automatically if the prosecution does not come up with the evidence by the deadline.