Jurors return not guilty verdict in Norman glass pipe trial
NORMAN — Norman City Councilman Stephen Tyler Holman and Friendly Market owner Robert Cox greeted cheering supporters on the courthouse steps Monday night after a jury acquitted acquitted both men on all counts.
A jury of four women and eight men deliberated five hours before acquitting the men of one felony count of acquiring proceeds from drug activity and twelve counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.
"You would think common sense would prevail," said Brecken Wagner, an attorney for Holman.
Holman and Cox were visibly moved after the verdict and hugged their attorneys and supporters in the hallway.
In closing arguments, Cleveland County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Crowe told jurors that Cox and Holman knew selling glass pipes was illegal.
"They knew what they were selling," Crowe told the jury. "They were just making too much money to comply with the law."
The prosecutor said Cox ignored repeated advice from attorneys and local law enforcement to stop selling "bongs" and other drug paraphernalia.
The bulk of The Friendly Market's sales came not from the local art or other items the store carried, but from glass pipes, Crowe said.
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Over 11 months, Crowe said, The Friendly Market sold more than 1,400 glass pipes, but made less than 20 sales of tobacco and herbs.
The defense contends the pipes police confiscated from the store are legal and that prosecutors failed to show that Holman and Cox intended their customers to use them to smoke marijuana.
"Intent matters," defense attorney Blake Lynch told jurors.
Besides glass pipes, the now-closed store also sold restored furniture, local art, tapestries, lotions and other items.
"This was not some greasy head shop you walk in under cover of night to buy things," Lynch told the jury.
Max Montrose, a cannabis expert hired by the defense, testified Monday that glass pipes can be used to smoke a variety of legal substances, including tobacco, mullein and coltsfoot.
"There are hundreds of legal herbs that can be used by smoking," he testified.
Montrose, of Denver, is president and co-founder of The Trichome Institute. The company produces educational textbooks, student workbooks and testing for the cannabis industry.
Montrose testified that on a previous visit to Oklahoma, he visited other stores in the Oklahoma City metro area that sell glass pipes. He also purchased legal herbs and smoked them, he said.
Jurors also heard evidence of Holman's traffic stop on Interstate 35 in Texas in 2007 in which police found a "one-hitter" pipe commonly used to smoke marijuana.
Police Chief Tyler Roy, of the Saint Jo, Texas, police department, testified that officers also found a "clear baggie containing a leafy, green substance" during the traffic stop. However, the search was later ruled unconstitutional and charges in Texas against Holman were dismissed.