|Drug agent testifies
Trial continues for former jailerApril 1, 2011
By CHRISTOPHER BOBBY – Court reporter (email@example.com)
Tribune Chronicle | TribToday.com
|WARREN – Detective Fred Raines never expected Brandi Lynn Watson to volunteer all the information she did after she was arrested Jan. 16, 2010, and thrown in Trumbull County Jail.
Watson, a 27-year-old mother of four, had been tracked down in a garage on Atlantic Street in Warren after a high-speed chase that authorities say reached speeds of 70 mph on the city’s northeast and southeast sides. During the chase, Watson and her drug dealer-partner, Frederick Johnson, threw out a loaded gun and sizeable amounts of heroin and cocaine they had bought in Detroit, authorities said.
Two of Warren’s K-9 officers confiscated the drugs in front yards and the gun was found.
Johnson meanwhile escaped a slew of drug agents and Warren police looking for him. He turned himself in to authorities a day or two later through his federal parole officer.
But no one could say positively it was Johnson behind the wheel of the gold 1996 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that is until Watson told Raines all about the ordeal.
Raines, who works for Trumbull-Ashtabula Group Law Enforcement Task Force, took criticism from defense attorneys Mark Lavelle, representing Johnson, and Jeff Limbian, representing Watson, for not using a formal Miranda Rights warning form.
He didn’t have a recorder of any kind and admitted to Lavelle he didn’t even have a pen or pencil with him during the questioning.
Raines said he simply interviewed Watson about 2:30 a.m. to see if she would agree to cooperate and give him a taped statement later.
A day or so later, Raines summarized his 40-minute conversation with Watson, who revealed precise details agents needed, including Johnson’s involvement. Watson declined any interview later.
”She told me Fred (Johnson) would try the case just to find out who did him,” Raines told a jury in the courtroom of Judge Peter Kontos Thursday.
Besides his conversation, assistant county prosecutor Chris Becker used Raines to introduce jail telephone recordings with Watson talking to her brother and revealing a lot about the chase along with her concern about her kids.
She told Raines the .40 caliber Glock pistol was hers and that she kept it for protection. She said she had a carry-concealed permit.
She said the 400 grams of heroin and the 4.5 ounces of cocaine were the most she and Johnson ever brought back from Detroit, where they would buy off Johnson’s brother over the preceding year.
Although Raines had only his memory and his summary to rely on, he also had the backing of Matthew Harrell, a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, who was with him and who started to testify on direct examination.
Harrell, a former Secret Service agent who once guarded President Bill Clinton, confirmed Raines’ version of the early morning interview and was about to be cross examined by the two defense attorneys when Kontos excused the jury to hear other arguments that included the defense lawyers’ request to have a copy of any report Harrell turned in on the incident.
An official request has to be made to the federal government for the report and an answer to the request could take until next week, when Harrell may finish his testimony.
In the meantime, lead investigator Rick Tackett, also with TAG, took the witness stand and will be cross examined today, when the prosecution most likely will rest with the exception of any further testimony from Harrell.
Tackett went over evidence that included paperwork in the form of receipts and bills from a home on Wallace Street S.E. that Watson shared with Johnson.