A crime for stealing illegal substance?
By 02/14/2008 00:00:00
Grand jury indicts anyway
The Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - Two black males alleged to have stolen marijuana from the son of prominent real estate developer Joe Rust in a botched drug deal in east Waxahachie are now facing the possibility of jail, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed this week.
Defense attorneys around Ellis County have watched the case closely and are furious prosecutors are bringing two robbery-related charges against Tederrin James Sullivan and Mitchell Wayne Anderson, both 18, when the substance they stole was illegal.
'If they [suspects] get a court-appointed lawyer, they're screwed,' said one defense attorney with an office on the downtown square.
Under Texas law, individuals do not have the right to possess illegal substances. Ownership is also defined separately.
A police report obtained by The Ellis County Press states that Lane Rust, the son of real estate developer Joe Rust, was taken into Baylor Hospital late last year with stab wounds he suffered when he and a friend were reportedly involved in an altercation after the two black males reportedly came up to Rust's truck and stole the bag of marijuana that was being allegedly waved outside of a passenger-side window.
The report states Rust was stabbed in the chest, but the grand jury - which receives its instructions from prosecutors - indicted on the assault charge, aggravated robbery and robbery.
The act of theft is based on depriving an owner of legal property, according to an analysis of the Texas Penal Code. Black's Law Dictionary defines owner as '…he who has dominion of a thing real or personal, corporeal or incorporeal, which he has a right to enjoy and to do with as he pleases…'
'This would evidently exclude a person in possession of a prohibited substance, as he has no right to use or enjoy that substance,' a second defense attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Rust was arrested in 2003 for intoxication assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury, a third degree felony, according to public records on PublicData.com.
Prosecutors later lessened the charge to a Class B misdemeanor.