May 1 trial date set for pot co-op 4

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

Four people arrested in a May 2011 raid on a medical marijuana dispensary in East Sonora will stand trial May 1, following an evidence hearing in Tuolumne County Superior Court on Wednesday.

Jana Marie Evans, Nancy June Smith, Sara Herrin and Dannyjo Geller Herrin, all of Tuolumne, are accused of illegally selling marijuana through Today's Health Collective, Inc.

Defense attorney Alexis Wilson Briggs, of San Francisco, said the case was calendared for trial on Wednesday but was continued until next month while more documents are reviewed.

Various motion hearings have been held since the defendants were charged, including a suppression hearing for the search warrant and its execution, Briggs said.

The defense also motioned to bring in the California Attorney General's Office as the prosecutor instead of the Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office. The motion claimed there was a conflict of interest because former District Attorney Donald Segerstrom filed the complaint against the marijuana providers and is now a Superior Court judge.

Judge Eleanor Provost denied the motion, saying Segerstrom is confined to the civil division and not allowed to discuss the marijuana case with anyone, including other judges.

None of the motions filed by the defense were granted, Briggs said.

The defendants in September 2011 launched a Facebook page entitled "Save the Sisters," where they have been posting case updates for the 73 people who have "liked" it.

They also posted a narrative on the front page of their website, asking for donations and expressing disappointment with law enforcement and the justice system.

"They want to hang us out to dry after hosing us down and I may sound a little disheartened but no one seems to care, no one comes to the hearings, no one asks what they can do, but everyone we talk to says they have our back..." the website read.

The defendants were arrested during a Sonora Police and Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office raid on the Via Este Road operation.

Undercover narcotics agents obtained medical marijuana cards and posed as customers at Today's Health Collective, Foothill Care Collective on Mono Way in Sonora and Alternate Natural Solutions on Enterprise Drive in Chinese Camp.

Nine people were arrested on May 25, 2011, following the raids.

The Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office said the defendants were representing themselves as caregivers for about 1,000 area medical-marijuana-card holders but were in fact selling pot for profit. That would be forbidden under Proposition 215, California's 1996 medical pot law.

Prosecutors in February 2012 dropped charges against two of the defendants in the Foothills Care Collective case: James Willis Brisco, of Sonora, and Renee Lynn Rivera, of Willow Springs. Co-defendants Jason Willis Brisco, of Willow Springs, and Rhett Schuller, of Sonora, pleaded guilty in February 2012 to possession of marijuana for sale. Brisco has since withdrawn his plea and appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal.

Sarah Marie Jacobs, of Twain Harte, who was arrested after the raid on Alternative Natural Solutions, is also appealing her case.

The Union Democrat
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