SPRINGFIELD — The lawyer for Melvin Jones III told Hampden Superior Court jurors Thursday the reason her client had 18 small bags of PCP in a Sprite can in his car was because he was going to use them himself.
Jones, who seven years ago won a $499,000 settlement in a police brutality lawsuit, is on trial for possession of PCP with intent to distribute (subsequent offense). The charge stems from a traffic stop on June 23, 2017, in Springfield.
Defense lawyer Aliki Recklitis said there was nothing to indicate Jones had, or would have, sold any of the drugs.
Assistant District Attorney Kerry A. Beattie told jurors the way the drug was packaged, and the fact there was a scale and $104 in the car Jones was driving, were some of the factors that showed Jones was intending to sell PCP.
Beattie said police determined during the traffic stop that Jones would not be allowed to drive his car away. Officers conducted a vehicle inventory prior to having it towed and found the PCP in the center console.
Recklitis said the “tiny” bags of PCP were not bundled into packs of 10. The officers did not send the scale to the state laboratory to see if it had traces of the drug on it, she said.
She said since the drugs were visible in a can as soon as the center console was opened, Jones was not trying to hide them.
After a whole day of jury selection with 75 people questioned, jury not complete for Melvin Jones PCP trial
Melvin Jones of Springfield is charged in Hampden Superior Court with possession of PCP with intent to distribute.
Police Officer Evan Donermeyer testified that he and his partner were on patrol in the South End when they saw a car “committing infractions.” It was not said what those were.
The officers attempted to stop the car, and although it didn’t stop right away it pulled into a gas station. Donermeyer said Jones got out of his car and “started to advance in our direction.” He later said Jones didn’t get far from his own car but turned toward them.
They felt Jones was a safety risk to them, so after he followed their commands to put his hands on the hood of his car they handcuffed him and put him in a cruiser. They called for backup and two other officers arrived to search Jones’ car, Donermeyer said.
Jones could not validly operate the car, he said. Jurors were not told why.
Donermeyer said Jones was taken to the police station and booked on the drug charge. He said he spent close to an hour with Jones.
“His demeanor was fine, he was pretty calm and collected,” Donermeyer said.
The trial continues Friday before Judge John S. Ferrara.
In 2012, Jones won a $499,000 settlement in a civil case involving Springfield Police Officer Jeffrey Asher, who in a separate criminal case was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in jail for assaulting Jones. The assault was filmed by a woman trying out her new camera, and the video was later obtained by The Republican and posted on MassLive.
Weeks after his legal victory, however, Jones was sentenced to three years in state prison in a drug trafficking case. In a second case, he was placed on probation on a domestic assault charge. In 2017 he was sentenced to six months in jail for violating probation.