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State continues fight to keep glass pipes from Norman store

The Friendly Market at 1100 E Constitution is seen in 2015 in Norman. The business is currently closed. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman Archives]

The Friendly Market at 1100 E Constitution is seen in 2015 in Norman. The business is currently closed. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman Archives]

NORMAN — Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn will appeal a judge's ruling to return glass pipes seized from a Norman store accused of selling drug paraphernalia.

Items police seized from The Friendly Market include glass water pipes, rolling papers and containers believed to be intended for use in storing marijuana. Police seized the items during two raids on the store in 2015.

Blake Lynch, an attorney for store owner Robert Cox, said he and his client were disappointed to learn Monday that the state planned to continue its legal battle.

"We are upset that the state continues to use tax dollars on this issue, which has already been resolved in court several times," Lynch said.

Cox announced plans to reopen the now-closed business after he was acquitted on drug-related charges in May stemming from his ownership of the store.

Special Judge Steve Stice ruled earlier this month that items Norman police seized from the now-closed store should be returned to Cox. The judge made no finding as to whether the items are or are not drug paraphernalia.

The City of Norman said at the time of the ruling that it had no plans to appeal Stice's ruling.

Mashburn did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

Heather R. Darby, assistant district attorney, notified the court in an email Monday that the state planned to file an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court to keep Cox from getting the store inventory back.

"Pursuant to court rules, I presume the filing of this action in the Oklahoma Supreme Court will stay your (Stice's) order to return the property to Mr. Cox and the property will remain in the custody of Norman Police Department until such time the state's request for relief can be resolved," Darby said in the email.

In May, Cleveland County jurors acquitted Cox, 63, and former store manager, Stephen Holman, 32, on a felony charge of acquiring proceeds from drug activity, and 12 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, after a six-day trial. Holman is an elected city councilman in Norman.

In February, another jury acquitted Cody Franklin, 24, a former clerk at the market, on a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

In 2016, a three-day trial of store clerk Maxwell Walters, 22, ended in a hung jury. Walters faced a single misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia for working at The Friendly Market.

In June, after three trials failed to produce a single conviction, Mashburn dismissed all remaining charges against the defendants.

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

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