Photo by Lincoln County Detention Center
Spencer Bale, 43, was found not guilty Monday of possession of meth and marijuana after Lincoln County District Judge Donald Rowlands conducted a bench trial.Bale was arrested Feb. 17, 2016 on charges that were filed Sept. 3, 2015 when North Platte police received information about drug use in a home in the 600 block of S. Walnut.
Officers obtained a search warrant and found a small amount of methamphetamine along with drug paraphernalia, consistent with using meth, in the house, according to police reports.
Bale was living there.
Investigators sent the items to the state crime lab for analysis.
The results confirmed that meth was one of the items. Bale was contacted at the same house and arrested.
Roberts-Connick called North Platte Police Officer Matt Phillips to the stand to describe the events that led to the arrest.
Phillips said Bale’s neighbors reported that people were constantly coming and going in and out of Bale’s house at all hours.
“I have known him for a while and I am one of the few officers that can relate with Spencer without him losing his cool,” Phillips said. “I told him what was going on around his house could lead to trouble, but he said he was just trying to help some people out.”
Phillips said a pop can found in the garbage behind the house tested positive for meth, which led to a task force obtaining a search warrant that was served on Sept. 3.
He said Bale did not own the house but was the renter.
“I knocked on the door and told him about the search warrant,” Phillips said. “He was courteous and polite.”
Phillips found a bedroom door locked. Two other people who live in the house were in the room. He ordered them to unlock the door and come out.
“They had an attitude but they complied,” he said.
The officers discovered a pipe and two small zip lock bags of meth in another room.
Additionally, a glass case with marijuana inside was found above a door. Phillips said Bale admitted to knowing the case was there, but insisted it did not belong to him.
“He said he knew who it did belong to,” Phillips said.
In cross-examination, Defense Attorney Martin Troshynski asked Phillips to examine a copy of the affidavit of the arrest and police reports.
He asked if the reports mentioned the glass case.
“No,” Phillips said.
In closing arguments, Roberts-Connick said Phillips’ testimony established that they found drugs in the home that Bale rented and he was responsible for them.
However, Troshynski said that there were two other known meth users living in the house and there was no evidence to prove that the drugs and paraphernalia belonged to Bale. In addition, Troshynski said there were no fingerprints taken of the pipe, glass case or other items found.
Rowlands agreed with the defense.
“The state has not presented evidence beyond doubt that the drugs belonged to Mr. Bale,” he said.
“I am finding you not guilty but you need to realize if you keep having people come and go at all hours to your house – keep it in mind -- this could happen again,” Rowlands told Bale.