Moffat County Judge Mary Lynne James hesitated to bind over a felony drug charge against James Pogline, who is accused of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
"I'm having trouble putting together possession with intent to distribute because of the lack of distributable drug that was found," James said at Pogline's preliminary hearing Monday.
James said she would take the matter under advisement, review her notes and issue a decision in writing.
James did find probable cause to bind over the three other charges in the case. Two counts of bail bond violations and one count of possession of methamphetamine passed the preliminary hearing and will move on to district court.
Dan Kelliher, an officer from the Grand Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, testified that several "gram bags" containing a white powder residue were found when police raided an apartment where Pogline was staying. The residue recovered in the April 20 raid, field- tested positive for methamphetamine, according to Kelliher.
Pogline's attorney, Colorado Deputy Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann, argued that there was no evidence to link her client to the gram bags.
The apartment did not belong to Pogline, and he was not on the lease, Uhlmann said.
"There's no evidence Mr. Pogline possessed any of those baggies," Uhlmann said. "It wasn't his apartment."
Uhlmann said the apartment was leased to Shawnelle Lira, who was arrested with Pogline during the raid.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Waite said officers found methamphetamine and an electronic scale in a milk crate that also contained Pogline's personal belongings.
"There's no evidence Mr. Pogline was aware of the baggie and the scale in the milk crate," Uhlmann said.
James Pogline's brother, Steven Pogline, also appeared in county court, facing preliminary hearings in three felony cases.
Two of Steven Pogline's cases were bound over to district court. One was postponed, Waite said.
One of the bound-over cases accuses Steven Pogline of drinking alcohol while out on bond in a burglary case. The second includes charges of possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, as well as violating bail bond conditions.
Uhlmann also represents Steven Pogline. She said that in a sense, preliminary hearings are a formality.
"The standard the judge has to use at a preliminary hearing is very low," Uhlmann said. "The judge must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the people."
That legal standard is not nearly as stringent as proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard applied at trial, Uhlmann said.
"Defenses are not at issue," Uhlmann said. "And typically the defense does not put on evidence at a preliminary hearing since it wouldn't matter if we did."
"It's a really low burden for us at this stage of the game," Waite said. "A preliminary hearing is really just a screening device."
Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org