Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trials reset in Santos drug cases

Judge reluctantly postpones court hearings


Bruno Santos

Judge Robert J. Elgee on Monday reluctantly rescheduled trials on drug charges against Bruno Santos because of a delay in providing defense attorneys with transcripts from the grand jury deliberations that led to indictments against him and his cousin.

"I'm not going to continue this again," Elgee said during a pretrial conference in Blaine County 5th District Court.

Two trials against Santos were scheduled to start on Oct. 27 and Nov. 2 because there are two felony drug-cases pending against him in Blaine County.

In the first, Santos is charged with trafficking in methamphetamine for allegedly selling a half-pound of the drug to an Idaho State Police undercover detective on May 14 in Hailey. Also charged in that case with conspiracy to trafficking in methamphetamine is Jose Benitez-Diaz, a 28-year-old Ogden, Utah, man whom court records describe as Santos' cousin.

Trial in that case is now set to start Jan. 11.

In the second case, Santos is charged with delivery of cocaine and trafficking in cocaine for allegedly selling the drug on two occasions in April to a Blaine County Narcotics Enforcement Team confidential informant in Ketchum. Trial in that case is now scheduled for Jan. 26.

Both Santos and Benitez-Diaz are suspected of being in the United States illegally and remain incarcerated in the Blaine County jail.

Santos is the former boyfriend of Sarah Johnson, now 23, who was convicted of killing her parents in 2003 in Bellevue. Johnson is now serving two life prison sentences without the possibility of parole.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said at Monday's hearing that the grand jury transcripts were not provided earlier because they contained the names of grand jurors and the name of the confidential informant.

Elgee ruled that both items could be removed from the transcripts.

"You should have done that some time ago," Elgee told Fredback.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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