Judge to decide if there is enough evidence for Morrow to stand trial
GAYLORD — After a three-and-a-half hour preliminary hearing in 87th District Court Wednesday, Judge Michael Cooper is yet to determine if there is enough evidence for local marijuana dispensary operator Chad Morrow to stand trial.
Morrow, 37, who owns Cloud 45, 2631 S. Otsego Ave., was arrested more than a year ago on charges of delivery or manufacturing of marijuana, delivery of a controlled substance and operating and maintaining a drug house after raids of his dispensary, home and a marijuana growing facility.
The charges resulting from the raid on the marijuana growing facility were dropped by the prosecution Wednesday.
Sierra Koch, a visiting attorney from Crawford County, was the prosecuting attorney in lieu of Otsego County prosecutor Brendan Curran.
There were about 20 people in the audience of the courtroom. Most were there in support of Morrow.
The prosecution brought in two witnesses to testify and prove there was enough evidence — Tyler Connolly, an informant who aided in the raids, and William Pitsch, a Michigan State Police trooper with the Straits Area Narcotics Enforcement (SANE) team.
Connolly testified to the fact that, while acting under the guidance of SANE officers, he filled out a form and purchased marijuana from Cloud 45. However, he could not specify who sold him the marijuana and could not identify Morrow in the courtroom.
He also had circled the wrong person in an on-paper lineup submitted as evidence.
Pitsch’s testimony offered details on the dispensary raid and the house raid.
During the house raid, SANE officers found five marijuana plants in the basement of Morrow’s home, bags of marijuana in the trunk of a car belonging to his housemate, Rebecca Herren, and other quantities and products containing marijuana elsewhere in the home.
In the police report, the five plants in the basement were described as a marijuana “grow.” However, the defense attempted to prove the plants were actually dead and discarded, because many of the leaves had wilted and there was no evidence of lights that were set up in the basement for the purpose of growing marijuana.
One version of the police report also mentioned a marijuana stalk as one of the items seized from the home, which was not included on any of the previous reports.
The defense attorney, Neil Rockind, suggested that change undermined the credibility of the report, because there was no note the report had been amended or corrected.
Near the end of the hearing, the prosecution also requested to bring retired Michigan State Police Sgt. Donald Bailey to the stand to testify on the state’s marijuana laws and a public hearing both he and Morrow attended, but the defense objected because Bailey was not on the approved list of witnesses.
Both the defense and the prosecution agreed that a record of the hearing could be submitted into evidence, but not to hear Bailey’s testimony.
“I think it went fantastic,” Morrow said after the preliminary. “We went in there transparent, all knowing what this was all about.”
If Cooper determines there is enough evidence to try Morrow, the case will move to 46th Circuit Court for trial.
Written by William T. Perkins