CANNABIS CULTURE – Forgive the racially offensive headline, as it should inflame and anger the reader and cause an outcry for the crucifixion of the reporter, but the fury should instead be directed at two other parties: a West Texas juror who uttered this phrase and the US federal court who sentenced a Jamaican National musician to 30 years in prison for possessing marijuana seeds. For sixteen years, his story has gone unreported.
And you may remember Federal District Judge Robert Junell who vacated Yolanda Madden’s sentence after a notorious NeverGetBusted investigation titled “KopBusters” caught the Odessa Police Department raiding a trap house set by this reporter and his team of investigative journalists. Keep reading.
On November 11, 1996, Dalton Knight Wilson, 40, and his brother were traveling through a West Texas border patrol checkpoint situated approximately seventy miles from the Mexican/American border when they were stopped by a DEA agent. While interviewing the travelers, the agent stated he could smell the odor of burnt marijuana. The passenger, Wilson, explained he and his brother were moving from California to Florida and admitted to having a small amount of marijuana for personal use. Both men were detained while a timely search of their furniture-loaded pickup was conducted. During the search, officers discovered a baggie of marijuana seeds along with some aged and dusty hydroponic growing equipment that had been sitting idle in a storage shed for several years.
Although Wilson had earlier given the agents the small amount of marijuana, one-quarter ounce, he was unaware of the seeds tucked away that had gone unnoticed in the pile of old furniture and boxes that were stashed in a shared storage building. Before leaving for Florida and while Wilson was en route with the truck to load his belongings, he telephoned his brother to move the belongings out of storage for loading. This explanation seems plausible because a person is unlikely to voluntarily give the police marijuana and not admit to the seeds. Most people understand possessing seeds are usually classified as a lesser offense than possessing marijuana and in Texas, possessing seeds is a Class “C” Misdemeanor (equal to a traffic ticket) and the possession of less than two ounces of marijuana is a Class “B” Misdemeanor, a slightly higher-level offense.
Since Wilson took full responsibility for the two state misdemeanors, his brother was released and Wilson was transported to the El Paso County jail. After three days of waiting for a bond, to Wilson’s disbelief, he was served with a two-count federal indictment in the Western District of Texas:
Count One of the federal indictment read:
“On or about November 11, 1996, in the Western District of Texas, Dalton Knight Wilson, knowingly did possess marijuana seeds with intent to manufacture marijuana.”
Count Two read:
“On or about November 11, 1996, in the Western District of Texas, Dalton Knight Wilson, knowingly did attempt to manufacture and attempt to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.”
Although Wilson is thankful his brother was not arrested, it is difficult to understand why his brother was not charged if the crime was serious enough to cause such a harsh reaction from the government.
Wilson was transported to a Pecos County, Texas jail where he remained for one month before being released on a supervised bond. Soon afterward, a one-day trial-by-jury was completed and Wilson was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by the now deceased federal judge, Lucius D. Bunton III. After serving 16 years, Wilson remains behind bars as a model prisoner at the Federal Correctional Institution in White Deer, Pennsylvania.
It is a common habit of the United States Government, the fairest and most just regime in the world, to charge and cage its citizens by pretending the possession of marijuana seeds is the same as possessing fully grown marijuana plants. This perfect rationalization was allowed by judges and used by prosecutors in two recent cases where both men are now serving five- and six-year prison sentences. In 2010, the famous freedom activist, humanitarian, scholar, and former owner of Cannabis Culture, Marc Emery, lost an extradition tug-of-war between his home country of Canada and the United States. Marc is now serving five years behind bars for selling tens of thousands of marijuana seeds to US citizens via an online seed company. In the same year, a Fort Wayne, Indiana judge sentenced 30-year-old Jesse Groth to six years in federal prison for selling marijuana seeds online from his northeastern Indiana home. Both of these men sold marijuana seeds, while Wilson was found only in possession of seeds.
It may seem like a dirty journalistic maneuver designed to inflame the reader by pulling the race card when arguing Wilson was treated unfairly because he is black (especially since racism completely ended in 1968 when the US decriminalized being a Black American by allowing them to drink from the same fountains as whites), but long after these two white men are released for possessing AND SELLING large quantities of seeds, a black man will remain in jail for more than 10 years longer – and had already served over 10 years before the seed dealers spent their first days in jail. Although unrelated to this article, it is interesting to note the former federal prosecutor, John McKay, who aggressively persecuted Marc Emery, is now an outspoken activist in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana.
NeverGetBusted obtained the court transcript of the jury selection process in Wilson’s case and noticed four of the twelve, all-white jury members were closely related to law enforcement.
Juror Fred Pina testified, “My brother is a sergeant in the Odessa, Texas police.”
Gloria Lujan testified, “I have a son working for the criminal Justice.”
Donna Yadon testified, “My father was a city policeman.”
Terry McAnally testified, “I have a son on the Midland Police Department.”
During the year long NeverGetBusted investigation of Wilson’s case, a reliable source in West Texas who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of government retaliation, reported that while attending a church picnic shortly after the trial, she heard one of the jurors proudly boast, “We taught that nigger a lesson.” This statement was not shocking to NeverGetBusted because in the mid 1990s, this reporter worked in the West Texas towns of El Paso, Pecos, and Odessa as a narcotics officer and can attest to the rampant racism that still infected that region during the time of Wilson’s trial. Although black people in this region were allowed to drink from the same water fountains, the “N word” was still widely used among law enforcement and citizens alike.
Not only was Wilson’s jury racially tainted and biased in favour of police, but according to court records, there were five significant legal errors that denied Wilson due process of law:
1. To date, Wilson has not received “Discovery”, which is a legal term used to describe a defendant’s right to obtain and examine all the evidence the government intends to use against him or her during their trial and sentencing. Discovery is crucial because it is the only way the accused can completely prepare arguments in their defense. According to docket records, Wilson’s public defender ordered Discovery but it was never given. After firing his public defender, Wilson obtained a paid lawyer who failed to file for Discovery and only requested to review the evidence two weeks before Wilson’s sentencing and after he was convicted. The Discovery was still withheld from Wilson and he was sent to prison for 30 years without the right to examine the government’s evidence that was used to send him there.
2. Due process would require some notice by statue or guidelines prior to the commission of the offense or sentencing that every seed possessed is the same as possessing a full-grown marijuana plant. The indictment did not allege nor did the evidence show Wilson possessed marijuana plants. The defense informed the courts, “Wilson received no notice of the nature or cause of the accusations in violation of the 6th Amendment.” In reaction to this statement, the presiding judge explained, “Three learned judges at the appeals court level would know more about that.” Or in other words, “I know I’m wrong but you must appeal to get any relief.” Furthermore, the government failed to allege the drug quantity in the indictment. The court’s failure to submit this issue to the jury is another violation of due process.
3. Later, during an appeal to the “three learned judges”, Wilson argued the government was in error to charge and sentence a person with possessing marijuana plants when only seeds were possessed. Although the appeal was denied, the three-judge panel agreed that seeds were not plants and ordered a re-hearing for Wilson. Wilson’s lawyer missed the hearing deadline and in an attempt to rectify the grave error, the attorney filed a Motion To Continue where he stated, “I missed my client’s hearing date because I was in a conference learning how to be a lawyer.” The motion was denied and Wilson lost his chance to present oral arguments to the appellate court.
4. Throughout the trial, plants were never mentioned and during the jury selection the judge told the pool of jurors, “This case is about marijuana seeds.” In the end, the judge sentenced Wilson for plants yet the jurors thought the case was entirely about seeds.
5. By treaty and according to the US government’s website, it is a law when a foreigner is arrested on US soil that the Consulate for the country of the accused be notified. During the course of Wilson’s arrest, hearings and trial, Wilson was never advised of this right and the US failed to report to the Jamaican Consulate that one of its citizen’s was under arrest and being tried.
In a NeverGetBusted interview with prominent and famous Washington State defense lawyer, Jeff Steinborn, who serves on the National Board of Directors for NORML (National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws) Steinborn stated, “This is an ugly one. But in the scheme of things we are accustomed to imposing unthinkable punishments on people for very minor crimes, particularly if you do the wrong crime in the wrong place. Even so, I can’t understand how this could happen. The racist jury didn’t impose the sentence. It’s just the same old racism that’s been there from the very beginning of our country.”
When speaking with Texas super-lawyer Bobby Mims, the President-elect of the prestigious Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association, Mims stated his opinions don’t necessarily reflect that of the TCDLA but, “Presently, there is bi-partisan movement in Congress to stop the criminalization of Federal laws. The USA incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world. Wilson is a casualty of a system that is not only broken but also bankrupt. I hope that Wilson can obtain the services of a qualified “Habeas” attorney and obtain relief. If history is any guide then the fact that you [NeverGetBusted] and your audience are interested in his case makes Wilson a lucky man.”
During the past 16 years of incarceration, Wilson has been a model prisoner receiving an Associate’s Degree in Psychology, a certificate from the National Restaurant Association in the safe preparation and serving of food, a Certificate of Competence and Skill In Employment from a South Carolina institution, A Computer Literacy Certificate from the State of Florida and has been participating in the Prison Companion Suicide Program for approximately 5 years, for which he was awarded several certificates of excellence. According to prison records, Wilson has only been disciplined once during his imprisonment when a newspaper was found in his cell.
During the past year, NeverGetBusted has corresponded with Wilson extensively. After preparing this article and moments before publishing, Wilson notified NeverGetBusted of a recent and bizarre turn of events that could get the condemned’s case back in court. Acting as his own lawyer, Wilson filed a Request For Discovery. To Wilson’s surprise, a federal district judge answered the request by giving Wilson a February 4, 2013 deadline to re-plea his Motion For Discovery; apparently to properly document the reasons why Wilson is entitled to Discovery after sixteen years. And the name of the magistrate willing to review Wilson’s pleadings is none other than the Honorable Federal District Judge, Robert Junell.
While the community is still debating whether KopBusters was a waste of law enforcement’s time or a clever humanitarian operation designed to free a mother of two, many have fairly decided Judge Junell acted honorably and with justice by vacating Yolanda Madden’s sentence and ordering a re-trial (ultimately leading to a plea bargain that promised Yolanda did not have to return to prison). This reporter cannot help but notice the irony of both Madden and Wilson having the same judge.
HOW TO HELP DALTON KNIGHT WILSON
As a certified expert witness and criminal case consultant, this reporter has adopted Wilson’s case Pro Bono (no pay) and is asking a qualified lawyer to do the same by becoming Wilson’s attorney of record and filing the re-plea for Motion For Discovery in Judge Junell’s Court. The answer must be handled by a professional instead of Wilson, since this could be the last chance Wilson has to terminate his cruel and unusual punishment. He has fourteen long and harsh years left to serve. If you are a lawyer interested in this humanitarian cause, please email: [email protected]. Wilson has been punished long enough.
Wilson has three adult children awaiting his release. Two of his sons are college graduates and the third is a musician.
For the reader to help free Wilson, place two polite yet firm phone calls asking for justice. Never underestimate the power of a thousand calls and what it can accomplish. Be one of the thousand who freed Wilson by calling and/or emailing the two persons below:
Federal District Judge Robert Junell
Politely and respectfully ask Judge Junell to vacate Wilson’s sentence and deport him back to his home country of Jamaica.
Phone: 432 686 4020
Email: [email protected]
Jamaican Consulate, Stacy Green
Politely request the Jamaican government to open conversation and legal channels to have Wilson released and deported to Jamaica.
Phone: 202 452 0660
Please write Dalton Knight Wilson letters of encouragement and support
Dalton Wilson #76331-080
L.S.C.I. Allenwood, P.O. Box 1000
White Deer P.A. 17887
Donate money to Wilson
Please help make his prison life more comfortable by sending a money orders or personal checks to:
Federal Bureau of Prisons, Dalton Wilson 76331-080
P.O. Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947
If you agree 30 years for possessing marijuana seeds is too long, CALL OR EMAIL NOW.
If you agree 30 years for possessing marijuana seeds is too long, PRESS THE SHARE BUTTON NOW.
Barry Cooper is a former Texas narcotics officer and current marijuana activist, filmmaker, entrepreneur and regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. Find his work at NeverGetBusted.com.