After a two-day trial and deliberations of about an hour, a San Mateo County jury on Wednesday, Jan. 13, convicted Menlo Park resident Ervin Gene Horton on two felony counts and two misdemeanors in connection with his arrest for riding a bicycle while intoxicated on Menlo Park streets last year.
Mr. Horton, 35, was found guilty of possession of crack cocaine and bringing the drugs into the county jail, both felonies. Police discovered a 0.18-gram rock of cocaine in his pocket during booking, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a report.
The jury also found him guilty of riding a bike while intoxicated and being drunk in public, both judgment calls by the arresting officer as there is no blood-alcohol standard. Mr. Wagstaffe's report notes that Mr. Horton was also riding at night without a light, an infraction of the vehicle code.
He was arrested at about 11:30 p.m. on May 28, 2009, in the vicinity of Ivy Drive and Madera Avenue. Mr. Horton remains out of custody on $7,500 bail. A sentencing hearing is set for March 9 at 8:30 a.m.
In the trial, prosecutors asked Superior Court Judge James Ellis to instruct the jury to be skeptical of Mr. Horton's testimony should he take the stand. The prosecution can make this request when a defendant has a prior conviction that constitutes moral turpitude -- in this case, selling drugs, Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.
While he was being booked into jail, prosecutors said that Mr. Horton confessed to the drug possession charge, saying "That is my crack. I smoke crack." Though the booking officer said he could not recall Mr. Horton's words for the court, an arresting officer said he did recall the booking officer relating the words of the confession to him. The judge accepted the arresting officer's account and admitted the confession as evidence, Ms. Guidotti said.
Four witnesses testified for the prosecution: three police officers and a forensic lab analyst. Mr. Horton took the stand in his defense. He said he "no idea" how the cocaine had gotten into his pocket and that he did not remember being taken to jail, he was so intoxicated, Mr. Wagstaffe said.
Mr. Horton's attorney, Edward Pomeroy, could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Horton would not have been charged with the second felony -- bringing drugs into jail -- had the arresting officers from the Menlo Park Police Department found it at the time of his arrest. Police may easily miss something like that because they typically do a simple pat-down search to look for weapons, Ms. Guidotti said.