Friday, March 14, 2008

Whose pot was it?

Investigation into Hailey marijuana bust nearly finished


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team has nearly finished its investigation into a felony-quantity stash of marijuana found late last month at a woman's home in Hailey.

Investigators have determined that the marijuana didn't belong to the woman, who suspect Joshua P. Norton described to investigators as his "grandmother."

Norton, a 31-year-old Hailey man, and April Ikeler-Belin, 21, also from Hailey, had been arrested at the Valley View Apartments on Feb. 26 and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana for allegedly having a smaller quantity of the drug (less than 3 ounces) at the premises.

Investigation led to the discovery of the larger quantity, more than 9 ounces, at the "grandmother's" house, but the Narcotics Enforcement Team is not saying at this time who allegedly owned the stash.

"All the evidence, the facts of the case, have been sent to the prosecutor's office, and they'll make a determination who to charge," said Steve Harkins, a Blaine County sheriff's detective and director of the Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Investigators are awaiting forensic lab analysis for possible fingerprints on the bag containing the marijuana.

Meanwhile, Norton's mother, Ruth Ruiz, of Hailey, contacted the Idaho Mountain Express on Wednesday and explained that the woman in question is not actually her son's grandmother. She said her mother is deceased and Norton's paternal grandmother lives in Filer.

"She's someone that my son has come to regard as a grandmother, but she's not a flesh-and-blood grandmother," Ruiz said.




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