Jury doesn't buy drug-dealing, weapons-possession arguments

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PITTSFIELD — A jury has acquitted Derrick King of most of the charges connected to a January 2017 raid that yielded thousands of dollars worth of drugs and a small cache of weapons.

King, 42, of Pittsfield, was found not guilty of all charges Friday afternoon, except for one count each of simple possession of heroin and cocaine, related to drugs he had on him at the time police executed their search warrant of a Students Lane apartment.

King's attorney, Colin Keefe, argued that his client was the victim of sloppy police work and wild speculation linking him to drugs and guns found during that raid.

"We're very thankful that the jury got it right," Keefe said Friday afternoon. "Mr. King was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Mr. King is using this opportunity to turn his life around," Keefe said.

The case was heard in Berkshire Superior Court.

Prosecutors argued that King and his brother, Kareem, used the apartment as a base of operations for a drug-dealing operation and kept a small cache of weapons in the building to defend it.

During his closing argument Friday, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano reminded jurors that when King was asked by police if there were more drugs in the apartment beyond the relatively small amount in his immediate possession, he said that whatever drugs were in the apartment were his.

"Believe Derrick King," Yorlano said.

Keefe argued that King had no knowledge about the bulk of the drugs stashed in the apartment and was only referring to the relatively small amounts he had in the apartment for his own personal use.

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Keefe said King's stepmother, Kelly Davis, testified that he was living with her and her husband at the time, and that the Students Lane apartment was not his residence.

He also noted that other evidence, including drugs and unsecured weapons, were found in the building's shared basement, to which all three apartments had access. There was no way to distinguish what items in the basement belonged to which residents, Keefe argued.

He said investigators overlooked asking key questions that would have helped establish whether King lived there and whether he had any knowledge of the drugs and apparent dealer paraphernalia found in the apartment.

Yorlano noted that, despite claims from King that he was a drug user and the narcotics with which he was found were for his personal use, there was a lack of user paraphernalia found to support that claim.

Jurors found King not guilty of four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, four counts of improper storage of a firearm, four counts of illegal possession of a firearm and one count of possession of ammunition without a firearms identification card.

Jurors did find King guilty of one count each of possession of cocaine and possession of heroin, instead of the more serious charges of possession of each with intent to distribute.

Based on the convictions, Yorlano recommended to Judge John Agostini sentencing King to 421 days of time served in custody.

Agostini adopted the recommendation.

Kareem King pleaded guilty in September to similar charges in the search. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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