Trial Begins Today for Bryan Gabriel, Snoqualmie Medical-Marijuana Provider

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UPDATE 2-21-10: via the CDC, "King County v. Bryan Gabriel was continued to February 28. The first day of jury selection ended early after 13 of 40 potential jurors requested dismissal on grounds that they could not be impartial on a cannabis case -- a larger jury pool was requested for the next day's voir dire. Due to schedule issues between witnesses, judges and attorneys, the case was continued to a later date."

Last year, Bryan Gabriel made headlines when Snoqualmie Police were required to return 10 ounces of medical marijuana they seized from Gabriel in late 2009. Today, however, Gabriel goes on trial in King County for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

The charges against Gabriel stem from a controversial police action that begin in June 2009. Snoqualmie Police targeted Gabriel and Jeff Roetter, one of Gabriel's clients/medical-marijuana patients in a sting.

Roetter, who suffered from epilepsy, was coerced into setting up a buy/bust of Gabriel by Snoqualmie Police. The cops snagged 10 ounces of pot, a few hundred dollars, and Gabriel's friend's Ford Taurus, which was used in the delivery.

Police pressured the 33-year-old Roetter to cooperate and testify against Gabriel. But when the cops showed up at his home on the morning of June 19, 2010, they found Roetter dead on his bedroom floor. According to a report from Horse's Ass, the investigators initially suspected that Gabriel had poisoned their witness. An autopsy, however, revealed that Roetter died after hitting his head on a nightstand during one of his epileptic fits. Roetter's family, the HA report says, blamed the police for their relative's death, claiming the stress from the investigation induced the seizure.

Eventually, King County dropped the initial charges against Gabriel and ordered Snoqualmie Police to return his stash. The cops refused at first, saying their investigation was incomplete and more charges were pending. They relented when Gabriel's attorney and representatives of Seattle's Cannabis Defense Coalition showed up armed with another court order.

True to their word, Snoqualmie Police eventually drummed up a new charge against Gabriel, leading to today's trial in King County. Once again, the CDC is rallying its members to show their support for Gabriel and (somewhat sarcastic) outrage with King County prosecutors for following through with the prosecution. Via the CDC's newsletter:

Note that this trial is moving forward in King County, that medical cannabis Shangri-La where patients are free from prosecution and protected from police harassment. Pray that the gods ruling over this mythical land can move to ensure the rosy and beloved world view of their devout believers be not shattered with harried action uncritical of fallible public servants and unresponsive to the wishes of their people.

Maybe if Gabriel wins his case, the judge will award him another 10 ounces of pot out of the Snoqualmie Police stash. You know, just to show some goodwill.

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