Drug charge dismissed for lack of evidence | VailDaily.com

Drug charge dismissed for lack of evidence

Jim Little, left, and Lauren Butler were local defense attorneys for a Pennsylvania man whose drug charges were dismissed when pills he had did not show up on Colorado's controlled substance list. The man was sentenced for DUI.

EAGLE — A Pennsylvania man's drug charges were dismissed because prosecutors could not convince a judge that the controlled substance he had ingested was actually controlled.

David Caplan was in a hospital emergency room with a white substance crusted around his nose and mouth, when he allegedly told someone who told a nurse he might have ingested an opiate — or a lot of opiates. Once Caplan was stable, the nurse found some pink pills with stars on them.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation scientist was on vacation and did not testify whether that supposed opiate was one of the controlled substances listed under Colorado's drug laws, or a designer drug that was close enough to it to make it illegal.

Caplan's local defense attorneys, Jim Little and Lauren Butler, argued that without that CBI testimony the prosecution's case did not rise to even Colorado's low standards necessary to send someone to trial.

"Everything that was tested for came back negative," Little said.

A CBI report said that Caplan possessed 3.49 grams of a substance that is not "specifically" a controlled substance under Colorado law.

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Prosecutors argued that it was an analog drug, something that has been altered in a way that makes it different from substances on the controlled substance list.

Eagle County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan agreed with Little and Butler, dismissing the drug charge but sentencing Caplan to three years supervised probation for his second DUI, and 100 days in jail. He'll return to Pennsylvania to serve his probation.

Judge Sullivan spoke sternly to Caplan during sentencing, reminding him that when he was first charged, his father came to her court and told him that being in jail might have saved his life. Caplan agreed.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.