Ricky Joseph found guilty, two plead guilty prior to trial
Editor’s Note: Information for this article taken from news releases and attendance of the closing arguments of the trial.
After a three-day trial, an Evangeline Parish Jury found Ricky Joseph guilty of four separate drug charges.
Joseph, 32, 1211 W. Hickory St., Ville Platte, was found guilty of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, possession of marijuana, possession of hydrocodone (lortab) and possession of methadone.
The charges result from an investigation by the Ville Platte Police Department with the assistance of the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office December 18, 2007. At that time, Joseph’s barber shop, located at 812 W. Cypress St., Ville Plate, was the subject of a search warrant. The warrant revealed two digital scales, crack cocaine, marijuana, methadone and lortabs.
In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Kathy Meyers asked the jury to look at the facts of the case. She explained the process of building a case like this one to the jury because the defense, Kelly Tate and Floyd Dupre, argued there were discrepancies in the way evidence was gathered and identified.
Meyers also explained a controlled buy was made at Joseph’s business by a CI (confidential informant). She said the CI’s identity was kept confidential to protect that person. Using that information, the officers obtained a warrant to search Joseph’s business. Narcotics were located in the bedroom attached to the barbershop and in cabinets near Joseph’s barber’s chair. The Acadiana Crime Lab tested those narcotics and discovered they were real. Digital scales also were found. Meyers also argued Alexis Roy, a girlfriend to Joseph, was present during the search but Joseph was not. In two statements to the police, Joseph said Roy did not have anything to do with the narcotics. She asked the jury to consider the evidence in this case.
Tate argued the amount of narcotics found were not enough to warrant distribution charges and believed they were for the personal use of Roy. She said there was no evidence presented suggesting the last time Joseph was at his place of business, and when officers arrived a cigar was smoking. She said officers smelled a strong smell of marijuana when entering the residence and only Roy was there so logically, the narcotics were for Roy. She also said they did not testify who the CI purchased the narcotics from.
Tate also challenged discrepancies on the forms completed by police officers. She said no evidence indicated razor blades were collected, but they were in the evidence bags. She told the jury the state did not prove its burden that the narcotics belong to Joseph.
Meyers countered there were no discrepancies. Several forms were filled out by different people and they all matched the pictures taken at the scene and the testimony of the officers. The testimonies matched the evidence, and the Acadiana Crime Lab tested the narcotics. She said the drugs were for Joseph, and he claimed them in two different statements.
Sentencing was set for November 29, after Judge Thomas Fuselier ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
Joseph is facing a sentence of not less than two nor more than 30 years on the charges of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence. On the possession of marijuana, being a third offender, Joseph is facing a sentence of up to 20 years. (He was previously convicted and sentenced to 18 months in Orange County, Texas, on a marijuana charge and also has a separate conviction in Evangeline Parish.) On the charges of possession or lortab and methadone, Joseph is facing a sentence of up to five years and a fine up to $5,000 on each of the charges.
District Attorney Brent Coreil said, “The excellent work of the Ville Platte Police Department and the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office have rendered a major blow to the drug traffic in our community. They are to be commended for a job well done.”
Two other defendants, scheduled for trial September 22, entered pleas of guilty before Judge Fuselier this week.
Forest Oneal Arvie, 35, 214 E. Wilson, Ville Platte, entered a plea of guilty to attempted manslaughter and possession of firearm by a convicted felon. Arvie was charged with shooting Kirby Simon March 15, 2008. As a result of his guilty plea, Arvie was sentenced to 18 years at hard labor on a charge of attempted manslaughter and 15 years at hard labor on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The second defendant, Corbette Lindsey Leyser, 46, 1371 Pine St., Turkey Creek, entered a plea of guilty before Judge Fuselier this week on the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Leyser had previously been convicted on possession of cocaine May 14, 2004, in Arkansas.
The charge resulted from a confrontation with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office April 21, 2008, in Turkey Creek. He had possession of a firearm at his residence and was in a stand-off with the sheriff’s department until tear gas was used. He was sentenced to 10 years at hard labor without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.
Coreil thanked the authorities in these two cases. He said, “because of the work of the law enforcement agencies in these two cases, it was not necessary to go through a jury trial and justice was served.”