Jury fails to reach a verdict in drug trafficking case
By Jane Beathard
The trial of a London woman accused of selling crack cocaine to a confidential informant last spring ended in a “hung” jury on Tuesday.
Jamie L. Rice, 26, was indicted in September on one count of selling cocaine in the presence of a child on April 25. She was one of 18 area residents arrested in a sweep of suspected drug dealers, following a lengthy investigation by the Madison County Drug Task Force. The task force is made up of sheriff’s deputies and a London police officer.
A jury of seven women and five men deliberated about 90 minutes before announcing to common pleas judge Robert D. Nichols they could not reach a unanimous verdict.
The charge against Rice hinged on testimony of a paid confidential informant and a 37-minute audio recording of a drug deal that took place in an apartment at 64 1/2 S. Main St. — Rice’s former residence.
The informant, a London native and convicted felon, testified he was on the payroll of the drug task force when he arranged to meet another city resident, Darren E. Cain Jr., at the Main Street address in order to buy drugs. However, Cain didn’t show up.
Instead, the informant met Rice and her brother, Joshua Davis, who lived in separate apartments at the location. During the audiotaped transaction that followed, the informant unsuccessfully tried to buy a “quart” or one-fourth ounce of cocaine from the pair.
He said Rice disappeared into her apartment, then phoned Davis to say she could provide a “ball” or one-eighth ounce of the drug.
The informant said he paid Davis $180 for the cocaine and another $40 for a small amount of marijuana, using $450 in “buy” money provided by task force officer Donovan Cooper from a special county fund. After the drug deal, the informant said he returned the drugs and all leftover cash to Cooper.
Cooper’s testimony conflicted slightly. He said the informant returned the drugs and some cash. However, $120 appeared unaccounted for.
Defense attorney Nick Adkins, in his first jury trial, noted that inconsistency and the informant’s sketchy past, calling the man’s credibility into question. Adkins also noted Rice’s voice is not heard in the final 19 minutes of the nearly inaudible tape when the cocaine actually changed hands.
“Josh Davis actually sold the drugs after Jamie left the room,” Adkins said in his opening statement.
Assistant county prosecutor Eamon Costello argued the inconsistent testimonies were irrelevant. He called it “common sense” that Rice actually provided the crack cocaine because she was the only other person involved in the initial deal.
Costello said Rice’s participation in the cocaine sale, whether as a primary source or an accomplice, made her guilty of trafficking under Ohio law.
On Wednesday, Costello said he will re-try the case if he cannot reach a plea agreement with Adkins.
Prior to the start of Tuesday’s jury trial, Darren E. Cain Jr., 27, the confidential informant’s original contact, pleaded guilty to selling cocaine on April 17 and April 18. One sale took place in the presence of a child, making it a more serious offense.
A third drug trafficking charge against Cain was dismissed by the prosecutor.
Nichols ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set sentencing for Jan. 17.
Cain could spend as much as 2.5 years in prison and pay $7,500 in fines for the convictions.
The Madison Press agreed to protect the identity of the confidential informant who testified at Tuesday’s jury trial at the request of the county prosecutor’s office.