Saturday, April 15, 2006

Appeals court upholds LSD sentence

The Kansas City Star

A federal appeals court has upheld the life sentence of a man in a case hailed as the nation’s largest seizure of an operable LSD lab.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Tuesday rejected the appeals by William Leonard Pickard of Mill Valley, Calif., and co-defendant Clyde Apperson of Sunnyvale, Calif.

A jury found the two guilty in March 2003 of one count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute more than 10 grams of LSD and another count of possession with intent to distribute the illegal drug.

Pickard is serving a life sentence; Apperson has a 30-year sentence.

“The physical evidence and the testimony during an 11-week trial were more than ample to support the convictions,” said U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren. “The appeals court considered and rejected a range of arguments by Mr. Pickard. He is no martyr, as he claims to be. He is a convicted drug trafficker.”

The two were arrested near a former missile silo near Wamego, Kan., where Drug Enforcement Administration agents said the LSD lab had been hidden.

The appeals court rejected Pickard and Apperson’s claims that they had been denied the right to a speedy trial. The court also rejected Pickard’s claim that the Nov. 6, 2000, traffic stop leading to his arrest was illegal and that search warrants were executed unlawfully.

The court also rejected, among other things, claims of judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.

In one instance, Pickard contended that the lead prosecutor made improper comments that had a negative impact on the jury. At one point in the trial, he contended, the prosecutor felt Pickard was too close to the jury and exclaimed, “Get him … away from the jury!”

Pickard said one juror had heard the comment. However, the appeals court noted that when questioned by the trial judge, the juror said she had not heard any remark.

By Robert A Cronkleton


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