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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Accused Drug Dealer|Headed to Trial

HOUSTON (CN) - Attorneys for a Texan fighting weapons and drug charges could not persuade a federal judge Monday to exclude evidence obtained during a raid of his home.

Pereneal Kizzee, a bald and stocky black man, wore a dark jacket and tan slacks to the suppression hearing Monday morning. A U.S. marshal uncuffed his wrists before he sat down at the defense table.

Kizzee fixed his gaze on the witness stand and U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon throughout, not at the prosecutors trying to convict him on three felony counts: possession of ammunition and guns by a felon, possession of crack cocaine with the intent to deliver and possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.

If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 35 years in prison.

A federal grand jury indicted Kizzee on the first count on Dec. 4, 2014. Federal agents arrested him a week later. The other charges were added in a superseding indictment handed down Nov. 5 this year.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent Christopher Wilhite testified at Kizzee's arraignment that he helped serve a search warrant on Kizzee's Huntsville home on Feb. 5, 2014, according to the transcript. Huntsville is an hour north of Houston.

Wilhite testified that Kizzee slammed the door on the nine officers who came knocking, and when the officers barged in, they found Kizzee in the bathroom dumping a 5-gallon bucket of water into the toilet.

Wilhite testified the officers found 1 gram of crack cocaine and crack residue in bowls. They also seized two .22 rifles from the house, two more rifles from a shed out back and hundreds of bullets, according to the transcript and the superseding indictment.

Kizzee's defense attorney Jordan Lewis told Courthouse News the motion to suppress referred to grand jury proceedings, which are not supposed to be made public, so it was filed under seal.

Huntsville Police Department Det. Lance Schulz, whose bushy beard would be at home in a major league bullpen, testified at Monday's hearing that as he watched Kizzee's home on Feb. 4, 2014 from an unmarked car, he saw Carl Brown pull up and meet with Kizzee briefly on the porch.

Though Brown was not in court Monday, he played a leading role in the hearing.

Schulz said he had a Huntsville officer pull Brown over, after which Brown confessed to Schulz that he had bought crack from Kizzee. Schulz cited Brown's confession in an affidavit for a search warrant for Kizzee's home.

After Kizzee was arrested, federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for Brown to testify against Kizzee.

"I actually brought him to the U.S. Attorney's Office," Schulz said. But after he picked up Brown in The Woodlands, a Houston suburb, and drove him to meet with prosecutors downtown, Brown changed his story, Schulz testified, and denied making the confession.

"After you learned what his proposed testimony was going to be, you threatened him, right?" attorney Lewis asked the detective.

Schulz replied: "My statement was something to the effect that 'I was going to make a special project out of him,' which I wouldn't consider a threat. It probably wasn't the right choice of words ... I was irritated with him that he was basically calling me a liar."

Schulz said he had received information that Brown was dealing drugs, but he hadn't "been a priority to us."

In closing arguments, Lewis said the warrant does not establish probable cause because it was obtained with the statement of Brown, a shifty witness.

"The point is, we have no idea if Mr. Brown is reliable," Lewis said. "We're not going to get to hear from him because of Det. Schulz's threat against him. He was cooperative. He willingly came to speak to the U.S. attorneys until that threat was made."

Prosecutor Shelley Hicks objected: "There's nothing to support that he voluntarily came down and spoke to us. He had a subpoena at that time."

Lewis argued that even if the warrant is valid, cellphones the police seized during the raid should not be admitted.

"The warrant was very limited. It was limited to drugs, paraphernalia or currency related to the sale of drugs," Lewis said.

Hicks focused on Brown in her closing remarks.

"If the defense wants to continue this so we can try to get Carl Brown here, we're all for it. The reality is, I don't think the defense wants Brown here, because if Brown takes the stand the door will be open for the detectives to testify that in fact on Feb. 4, 2014 Brown did tell them that he had just gotten the drugs from defendant Kizzee."

Hicks said the fact that police saw Brown make an apparent drug deal with Kizzee, then pulled Brown over and found cocaine was enough for a warrant.

"You add Carl Brown's statements and that's just icing on the cake," she said.

After two hours of testimony, Judge Harmon denied the defense motion, finding that Schulz and his fellow officers had enough evidence for a search warrant.

"They saw what they believed to be a drug deal," the judge said, her amplified voice echoing in the spacious courtroom.

She denied Kizzee's suppression motion and scheduled his trial to start Tuesday at 1 p.m.

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