Court News

Gavel and scales

CENTREVILLE — A Centreville man is being held at the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center while he awaits sentencing after being convicted of possession with intent to distribute drugs.

A jury convicted Kevin Tarrell Briscoe, 27, of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and fentanyl in an Oct. 31 trial in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court before the Honorable Paul Bowman, a retired Kent County Circuit Court judge. Queen Anne’s County Deputy State’s Attorney Michael “Mick” Cuches prosecuted the case.

The charges arose from an anonymous tip. A caller reported to Centreville Police that he witnessed what he believed was a hand-to-hand drug deal in the Citgo parking lot at 426 S. Commerce St., Centreville, on Sept. 29, 2018. The caller provided a description of the individuals involved along with their vehicles to Cpl. Charles Harris.

Harris and Officer Futrel Jackson responded to Citgo and found three men and a vehicle matching the description given by the caller, Cuches said. The men were identified as Sean Merrigan, Reginald Demby and Briscoe. Police learned Briscoe had an active arrest warrant.

Briscoe was arrested and taken to the Centreville Police Department, where Sgt. Robert L. Hobbs authorized a strip search. During the search, Harris noticed the end of a plastic baggie sticking out of Briscoe’s rectum. He removed the baggie and placed it on the floor of the holding cell, Cuches said.

According to police records, the baggie contained one Alprazolam pill and two smaller baggies. One of the smaller baggies contained 14 gray capped vials containing cocaine; the other baggie contained five clear capsules, each containing a white powdery substance initially thought to be heroin.

Jackson returned to the Citgo and reviewed surveillance footage from that afternoon. The video showed a white pickup arrive and meet with the occupants of a silver vehicle for a short time, then leave the parking lot without the occupants getting gas or going into the store.

The drugs were seized and sent to the Maryland State Police Crime Lab for testing. The lab confirmed Alprazolam and cocaine. The white powdered, suspected to to be heroin, turned out to be fentanyl, police said.

Briscoe was charged with three counts of drug possession, two counts of possession of paraphernalia and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

During the trial, Cpl. Michael Buckius of the Maryland State Police, a member of the Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force, testified as an expert in drug identification, detection and distribution. He testified the amount of cocaine and fentanyl possessed by Briscoe indicated an intention to distribute. He spoke regarding the characteristics of fentanyl and cocaine possession by users as opposed to those who possess it to distribute it. He further testified the actions shown on the video footage from Citgo was consistent with a hand-to-hand drug transaction.

The jury convected Briscoe on all counts. Bowman revoked Briscoe’s pre-trial release status and ordered he be held at the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center pending the results of a pre-sentence investigation.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the anonymous, concerned, citizen who did the right thing by calling the police when they observed potential criminal activity. It resulted in this arrest and allowing police to get these drugs off the street,” Cuches said. “The police did an excellent job investigating this matter at every stage; from the initial contact, to the arrest, to observations of the defendant’s behavior and the subsequent search that recovered the drugs.”

Prior to the trial, Briscoe’s attorney argued police lacked reasonable suspicion to question him and that his arrest was unlawful. Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Ross ruled police had reasonable suspicion to question him, which was further supported by the existence of the outstanding warrant for Briscoe’s arrest.

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