Neither Fullerton police nor any other witness saw Samuel Fausto Uribe try to sell illegal narcotics but that didn't stop government officials from charging the 28-year-old Fullerton resident with possession of methamphetamine for sale in the summer of 2011.
Though Uribe had been sitting in the driver's seat in a legally parked car, suspicious officers decided to stop and search his vehicle. They reportedly found a scale and a baggie with 13 grams of meth worth at least $1,100 on the street.
The defendant, who didn't own a driver's license, insisted that the drugs were for personal use to support his nasty, teeth-rotting habit.
But a Dec. 2011 Orange County jury concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that he had intended to sell the meth and, following the conviction, Superior Court Judge Steven D. Bromberg, a former Republican mayor in Newport Beach, sentenced him to jail.
Uribe appealed and a three-judge panel at the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana appointed the appellate counsel who reported that Bromberg may have been mistaken by not granting a defense trial motion supporting the notion that possession didn't equate to an intention to sell.
Lead by Justice William Bedsworth, the appeals court ruled on Aug. 31 that the jury could have reasonably guessed that the scale and the size of the drug cache likely meant narcotic sales.
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"Trial court testimony established that a heavy user could go through about a gram a day," wrote Bedsworth in the opinion. "While that did not compel a conclusion of the intention to sell some of the drug, it was certainly enough to support a conclusion it was possessed for sale. That, and the jury's opportunity to observe Uribe when he testified it was possessed only for personal use, was enough to support their verdict."
Upshot: Uribe served a sentence of 212 days in the Orange County Jail and the conviction will remain on his rap sheet.
Police are looking for fugitive Daniel Aguado Vasquez, who was with Uribe at the time the drugs were recovered, according to court records.