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Nebraska woman guilty
of possession of meth

A Nebraska woman was found guilty of possessing methamphetamine after a bench trial featuring testimony about an unusual arrest by the commander of the Platte County jail.

Denise Davis, 34, of Omaha, was convicted at trial on Friday of felony possession of methamphetamine.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, “This case began with a rare traffic stop by a captain of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department who oversees operations at the county jail. Normally, his duties do not include traffic enforcement, but this defendant’s aggressive and dangerous driving got her stopped, and a search of her car got her charged with drug possession.”

At trial, Zahnd’s office presented testimony that on Sept. 12, 2002 Platte County Jail Commander Randy Pittman and another member of the Platte County Sheriff’s Department were driving on I-29 in an unmarked car. Pittman said he saw a car dangerously speed up to the rear of his vehicle. Pittman changed lanes to allow the car to pass.

Pittman then pursued the vehicle when it became apparent the driver’s erratic driving posed a danger to other travelers and herself. Pittman testified that Davis’ car was speeding, weaving in and out of lanes, and following too close to other vehicles on the highway.

A nearby Missouri Highway Patrol trooper who was monitoring radio transmissions responded to the scene after Pittman pulled the driver over. The trooper testified that he recognized it was uncommon for a captain in the sheriff’s department to make a traffic stop and decided to assist.

Pittman testified at trial that, as a former undercover narcotics detective, he found Davis’ behavior consistent with illegal drug abuse. Methamphetamines were found in Davis’ purse during a search of her vehicle for weapons and illegal substances.

“Although the defendant denied ever seeing the drugs before, prosecutors in my office proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that she possessed the drugs and knew of their dangerousness,” Zahnd said.

Davis blamed Crohn’s Disease and other ailments for her behavior during the traffic stop. Zahnd’s office, however, presented testimony at trial that people who suffer Crohn’s Disease do not exhibit the behavior Davis exhibited.

Three witnesses from the Platte County Sheriff’s Department and a Highway Patrol Trooper testified at trial.

“We work closely with officers from the Sheriff’s Department and the Highway Patrol on a daily basis,” Zahnd said. “Still, it’s not every day that the lead witness in a trial that started out as a traffic stop is a captain in the Platte County Sheriff’s Department and the commander of the detention center.”

Zahnd added, “It is good to know that every member of the sheriff’s department is working to keep our roads safe, even if that is not their assigned duty. Captain Pittman’s excellent police work was invaluable in convicting this meth abuser.”


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