LIMA — A jury trial for a Lima man that opened Monday in Allen County Common Pleas Court continued in starts and fits Tuesday, slowed to a virtual crawl by newly-introduced evidence.
A jury was seated Monday in the trial of Jaishaun Ball, 33, charged with possession of cocaine charge, felony of the first degree, three counts of trafficking in cocaine, fourth-degree felonies; a fifth-degree felony charge of possession of cocaine and a third-degree felony count of having weapons under disability.
Included in those counts was a specification labeling Ball a major drug offender.
Jurors on Tuesday heard testimony from a confidential informant who said she purchased cocaine from Ball on three separate occasions in March of 2019. The woman said she was cooperating with officials with the West Central Ohio Criminal Task Force in conducting the controlled drug buys. In exchange for her assistance, task force officials were willing to help some of the woman’s own legal woes disappear.
The informant testified that Sgt. Brandon Hemker of the Allen County Sheriff’s Office, the lead investigator into alleged drug dealing on the part of Ball, told her that three low-level charges of trafficking in drugs pending against her would be dismissed if she served as an informant. The woman testified she purchased $100 worth of crack cocaine from Ball on March 21, 2019, seven grams of coke for $350 the following day and another gram for $100 on March 26.
Under cross-examination, the informant said she has previously been a drug dealer to support her heroin habit. Asked if she was still using heroin, the woman replied, “I am.”
The three controlled drug purchases facilitated by the woman led investigators to obtain a search warrant for Ball’s residence. On April 1, 2019, the West Central Ohio Crime Task Force and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team executed a search warrant at 953 Rice Ave., Lima. Approximately 114 grams of suspected cocaine was located at the residence.
With Hemker on the witness stand under cross-examination by Defense Attorney Steve Chamberlain, the detective eluded to a second warrant that was executed at that same address a few weeks later, after Ball had been released from jail after posting bond. That information was met by an objection from Chamberlain, who said he was just that moment learning about a second search warrant.
“There was no (evidentiary) discovery provided regarding a second raid,” Chamberlain told Judge Terri Kohlrieser. “It’s my understanding that the prosecution was not aware of this either, so I’m not blaming them. But it is disturbing. My client told me they (the SWAT team) had come to his home a second time, but frankly I thought he was crazy.”
The new revelation led to a pause in Tuesday’s proceedings while court officials obtained a copy of the search warrant issued for the later raid. A so-called “no knock warrant” was issued following yet another controlled drug purchase that took place April 18 at the Rice Avenue location. It was also learned that a male confident informant was used in that drug buy.
“Frankly, at this point I’m not sure what to do,” Chamberlain said. “I’m not saying that Sgt. Hemker intentionally tried to mislead anybody, but I would like to have this afternoon and evening to try to evaluate this new information.”
Testimony in the trial will resume Wednesday morning. Jurors are expected to begin their deliberations sometime later in the day.