Jury finds London woman guilty
By Jane Beathard
A jury of nine women and three men deliberated less than an hour on Tuesday before finding a London-area woman guilty of selling drugs in the vicinity of children.
Jessie M. Leming, 20, was convicted in Madison County Common Pleas Court of selling five Percocet tablets (Oxycodone) to a confidential informant at Green Meadows Mobile Home Park on the afternoon of May 25, as children played nearby. The conviction is a third-degree felony.
Leming was arrested on Sept. 14 during a “sweep” of suspected drug dealers operating in and around the county. The round-up followed months of undercover investigation by the Madison County Drug Task Force.
Much of assistant county prosecutor Eamon Costello’s case against Leming hinged on testimony by the confidential informant who bought the opiate tablets.
The informant, a life-long London resident and admitted drug user, said she approached Lt. Eric Semler of the task force, offering to inform on local opiate suppliers in exchange for money. The woman was unemployed and attempting to regain custody of her children at the time.
She agreed to wear a radio recorder-transmitter to buy or attempt to buy drugs from acquaintances. She earned $50 to $100 with each transaction. On Tuesday, jurors heard a scratchy recording of the May 25 sale involving Leming.
Defense attorney Josh Beasley attacked the informant’s credibility, saying she helped authorities in exchange for money, as well as a probationary sentence and drug treatment for a misdemeanor theft conviction. She left the treatment program early and relapsed into drug use. He noted she is currently serving jail time for the probation violation.
Beasley also said Semler and Officer Donovan Cooper of the London Police Department lost sight of the informant as they trailed her into the Green Meadows community and only overheard the exchange with Leming. Beasley argued that audio recording was so difficult to understand, it was unclear who actually sold Percocet to the woman.
Following Tuesday’s trial, Judge Robert D. Nichols ordered house arrest for Leming, pending a Jan. 29 sentencing. Leming has no other criminal history and is likely to be placed on community control under Ohio’s current sentencing guidelines.