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For now, judge won't toss Dukes' marijuana charge
Circuit Court judge John Conrad gave the lawyers until Wednesday evening to file briefs on the subject. He plans to issue a written ruling.
By CARRIE WEIMAR
Published July 7, 2007
Elijah Dukes, whose off-field problems have kept him out of the line-up.
TAMPA - A Hillsborough Circuit judge refused to throw out the marijuana case against troubled Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes on Friday.
But Judge John Conrad left the door open to dismissing the charge later after reviewing more information.
Dukes, 23, was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession after he was pulled over by Tampa police Jan. 15 in Ybor City. A drug-sniffing dog reacted to his car, and authorities said a search revealed a bag with about 2 grams of the drug in a center console.
Dukes' brother, Willie Evans, a passenger in the car, was charged with possession as well. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Police said they initiated the traffic stop because Dukes and Evans were violating a city noise ordinance by playing loud music in their car.
Dukes' attorney, Wes Trombley, argued Friday that the ordinance is unconstitutional and, as a result, the traffic stop was illegal.
Conrad rejected that theory. But he reserved judgment on a second argument Trombley made regarding ownership of the marijuana.
Trombley said Dukes shouldn't be held responsible for the marijuana because it wasn't his.
"Willie Evans, from the moment of his arrest, said, 'This is my marijuana, ' " Trombley said.
But Assistant State Attorney Mustafa Ameenuddin said Dukes should be held accountable because he knew the drugs were in the car.
Conrad said he wanted more information before making a decision and gave the lawyers until Wednesday evening to file briefs on the subject. He plans to issue a written ruling.
The Devil Rays last month moved Dukes from their big-league team to the minor-league inactive list. He faced a flurry of accusations, from threatening the life of his wife, NiShea Gilbert, to impregnating a teenaged foster child.
Gilbert is hoping the marijuana charge against Dukes sticks. She wrote a letter to the judge May 17, urging him to punish Dukes and order him into treatment.
Gilbert wrote that Dukes would come home "so high he doesn't know what day it is" and said he has a serious drug problem.
"It seems like just because he plays baseball, " Gilbert wrote, "that every charge that he is arrested on is always thrown out of court."