Man convicted of having half-ounce of cocaine

URBANA — A man who had about a half-ounce of cocaine stuffed down his pants when police searched him almost a year ago is headed for prison when sentenced in April.

A Champaign County jury took about an hour Wednesday to convict Lyarron T. Emers, 35, who listed different addresses in Champaign and Rantoul, of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

Because of his prior convictions, Emers faces six to 30 years in prison instead of four to 15 years for a Class 1 felony when Judge Heidi Ladd sentences him on April 5.

“The defendant got caught with his inventory in the back of his pants,” argued Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Banach.  

The prosecutor maintained that the 14.3 grams of cocaine, packaged in 17 separate plastic bags, was “way more than a simple user amount” and proved Emers had the drugs with the intent to sell them.

Emers’ attorney, Leroy Cross of Chicago, argued unsuccessfully that his client was a user, not a dealer, and guilty only of possessing the drugs, a lesser felony.

“The man does work, but addicts will do anything they can to get the money together for the drugs they need,” Cross said of the approximately $1,500 worth of cocaine police found on Emers March 23, 2016.

Testimony revealed officers of the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force had gone to Emers’ job site in Urbana that day to arrest him for an alleged home invasion earlier that month in which an Urbana woman was beaten.

The jury heard no details of the other crime, just that Emers was wanted by police. Charges of home invasion, aggravated battery, intimidation and battery in that case are unresolved.

Champaign police detective Dustin Sumption said after handcuffing Emers, he searched him and felt something in his pants near his buttocks, which he told Emers to remove.

“He reached into his underwear and pulled out a plastic bag with multiple bags of a white rocklike substance,” Sumption said.

That substance later tested positive for cocaine and weighed 14.3 grams, a state crime lab expert told the jury.

Sumption said officers also found a set of keys on Emers that had a key to a home on Crestwood Point in Champaign. Officers got a search warrant for that residence — the home of the mother of Emers’ child — and went there later the same day. Also on the ring was a key to a vehicle that was owned by Emers’ uncle, who also lived at the Crestwood Point address.

Officers testified they found items commonly associated with drug dealers in two different drawers in the kitchen and bathroom. Those included documents belonging to Emers; plastic bags; digital scales that tested positive for cocaine residue; and Inositol, a powder supplement sold in vitamin stores that is commonly used to cut cocaine, making the doses go further.

For the defense, Trisha Fitton, the mother of Emers’ child, testified he did not live in the house with her but visited once or twice every two weeks. Emers’ sister testified he lived with her and that he had a drug problem.

Fitton testified she removed Emers’ documents, including a pay stub and mail, from a jacket of his when she washed it and put them in the places where police found them in her house.

The plastic bags, she said, were for normal use such as packing her lunch, and the scales were hers to measure out the Inositol that she uses as a vitamin supplement to promote her hair growth and help her sleep.

Asked by Banach why cocaine residue was on the scales she used to measure Inositol, she responded: “I don’t want to answer that because I feel it would incriminate me.”

mschenk@news-gazette.com
 

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