Woman faces drug trial despite burned evidence
PITTSBURGH (AP) - April 21, 2011 (WPVI) -- A federal judge says a Pittsburgh woman can stand trial on drug charges even though police mistakenly burned her change purse and the heroin it contained.
Tiona Jones' attorney had argued her defense depended upon showing the jury the purse could have been zipped closed with the drugs in it, which Jones claims it was during a May 2008 traffic stop.
The 32-year-old woman faces drug and weapons offenses because a city police officer says he saw the drug sticking out of the open purse. That led to searches of her vehicle and home that yielded nearly four ounces of heroin and two weapons charges.
Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond ruled Tuesday that police didn't purposely thwart the defense by burning the items after cleaning out an evidence room due to a ventilation problem.
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