Appeals court upholds 'oral' evidence conviction

Idaho StatesmanOctober 26, 2013 

A Meridian man who ate the evidence failed to convince the Idaho Court of Appeals to set aside his convictions for destruction of evidence and for being a persistent violator.

James Clayton Bradshaw was arrested in October 2011 for driving without privileges after Officer Brett Bateman of the Meridian Police Department saw him drive into a parking lot and get out of his vehicle.

Bateman searched Bradshaw and placed items taken from him on the trunk of Bradshaw's vehicle. One of the items was a small plastic bad that contained a white, powdery substance the officer suspected was an illegal drug.

Before Bradshaw could be placed in Bateman's patrol car, the suspect lunged toward his vehicle, grabbed the baggie with his mouth and swallowed the powder before officers could retrieve it.

A drug-detection dog was brought to the parking lot and he alerted his handler at the spot on the trunk where the baggie had been sitting. Police testimony at trial indicated the substance was likely either cocaine or methamphetamine and possession of either substance was a felony violation of Idaho law.

Bradshaw was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, with a two-year minimum.

In his appeal, Bradshaw argues there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the felony drug crime.

Spencer Hahn and Sara Thomas, Bradshaw's appeals attorneys, argued that the Court of Appeals misapplied the law in an earlier 2003 case in which the defendant was similarly charged with destruction of evidence for purportedly swallowing drugs wrapped in plastic.

The defendant in that case, who likewise was convicted, argued that because he was initially being investigated for a misdemeanor crime, he should not have been charged with a felony for destroying evidence. The appeals court said although it found the statutory language to be ambiguous, a review of the legislative history made the meaning of the law clear.

Bradshaw argued that only the statutory language should have been examined when determining its meaning. The court disagreed.

"The rule ... does not require courts to disregard legislative history, public policy, or the context of the statutory language when determining the intent of the legislature," Judge John Melanson wrote in the five-page decision issued Friday.

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