St. Martinville – A 35-year-old Jamaican, accused of hauling 2,397 pounds of marijuana, was acquitted Thursday by a state District Court jury.
Henry Mathie of Queens, N.Y., was arrested December 1999 after State Police stopped him on Interstate 10 in St. Martin Parish and found the marijuana in a trailer loaded with several thousand punds of vegetables, according to Maithe’s attorney, Thomas Calogero of New Orleans.
Maithe had confessed four times that he knew the marijuana had been loaded onto the truck in 10 suitcases, Calogero said.
“But at trial he testified his confessions were a lie because he had been promised his freedom if he would confess,” the defense attorney said.
Calogero showed at trial that numerous times throughout Mathie’s confession, he asked if he could go home, but police refused to answer him.
Through the use of “other crimes” evidence, the jury learned that Mathie was arrested last year in Missouri, where authorities found more than 300 pounds of marijuana in a trailer he was hauling, but Maithe was not charged in that seizure.
The jury voted 11-1 for acquittal, he said. Had he been convicted Mathie would have faced at least 20 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of 60 years.
Maithe had to serve a year in the St. Martin Parish Jail because he could not post bond. He was arrested the day before last year’s inmate uprising at the facility.
Maithe did not participate in the hostage-taking, Calogero said. The case was prosecuted by District Attorney Phil Haney before state District Judge Ed Leonard.