News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news

Athens man represents himself, loses drug case

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — A convicted drug dealer who represented himself in Limestone District Court tried to base part of his defense on investigators not being able to ascertain what crack cocaine is by looking at it.

A jury disagreed with that reasoning and found Joe Daniel Holt Jr., 41, of 23949 Pressnell Road, Athens, guilty Tuesday after deliberating about an hour.

The jury found Holt guilty of eight counts of distribution of a controlled substance, trafficking crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. His sentencing will be at a later date.

Holt is in Bibb Correctional on a receiving stolen property charge.

During the trial, Holt also questioned how investigators could charge him with trafficking without certifying the crack cocaine's weight was more than 28 grams, which is required for a trafficking offense.

Judge Bob Baker removed the jury Tuesday during a forensic scientist's testimony and told Holt that law enforcement makes those kinds of arrests "all day long." Baker said officers can arrest someone on suspicion of distributing or trafficking drugs and then drop the charges if forensics determines the contents were grass blades instead of marijuana or a grain of crack cocaine instead of 28 grams.

Forensics determined Holt had 38.47 grams of crack cocaine.

The prosecution showed a DVD recording of Holt selling drugs to an undercover agent. Drug investigators with Limestone County Sheriff's Department and Athens police said they also found drugs in a secret compartment in Holt's closet.

Authorities arrested Holt in March 2006 during a countywide drug bust. Sheriff Mike Blakely said after the raid that Tony Tipton, a former police officer from Missouri, worked undercover for the department and made 11 drug buys from Holt.

Holt called his niece, Savannah Holt, to testify that she stayed at his Pressnell Road home and had "get togethers" there.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Chesnut asked Savannah Holt if those attending her get togethers hid drugs in secret compartments.

Savannah Holt said she did not know.

Chesnut later entered into evidence a letter Holt's sister wrote him while he was in jail that said, "How in the hell did they know where your secret spot was?"

Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!

Leave feedback
on this or

Email This Page