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Artist faces trial for alleged pot sale in Cathedral parking lot

2012-01-07T00:12:00Z 2012-01-07T00:14:06Z Artist faces trial for alleged pot sale in Cathedral parking lotBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
January 07, 2012 12:12 am  • 

A jury trial is scheduled to start Monday for a man facing a maximum sentence of life in prison for the sale of what he describes as 2.2 grams of marijuana in the parking lot of the Cathedral of St. Helena.

Bruce Francis Weber was arrested July 11 after a security guard spotted him removing “two small bags” of marijuana from his sock before handing them to another man, according to an affidavit by prosecutors.

In a letter to District Judge Kathy Seeley in November seeking a reduction in bail, Weber described himself as a graphic artist.

“In 2002, a painting of mine was in the biggest recording release ever by the Grateful Dead. Perhaps you have heard of them?” he said in the handwritten note sent from the Lewis and Clark Detention Center. He punctuated the sentence with a smiley-face.

His work also appeared on rock concert promotional posters in the 1970s.

In the note, Weber described himself as surviving on food stamps and occasional odd jobs.

He spent about four months in jail before being released on $1,000 bail, which started at $50,000 and was later reduced to $5,000 before dropping to $1,000.

According to his letter, he has previous marijuana possession convictions is 1979 and 1989, and was convicted of selling $10 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer in 1989. In 2009, he was convicted of possession of a small amount of heroin and received probation and inpatient treatment, he wrote.

His public defender asked Seeley to prohibit prosecutors from telling the jury that the alleged offense took place in the cathedral parking lot, claiming that it could prejudice jurors. Seeley rejected that motion at a hearing Thursday.

The penalty for distribution or attempted distribution of dangerous drugs is one year to life in prison, although most people convicted of the crime receive a much lighter sentence. 


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(15) Comments

  1. FarmerJane
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    FarmerJane - January 12, 2012 11:16 am
    Jury nullification is the only defense the average person has.
    Until the laws are changes expect more of the same. Decriminalize this plant and see the change. It can't be any worse than what we have now. If it doesn't work and society goes insane change the laws back. Seems to be able to happen overnight in Helena.
  2. Riamh
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    Riamh - January 12, 2012 12:10 am
    A while back, in Missoula, A man was caught with less than a gram of cannabis. He requested a jury trial as was his right. The entire pool of potential jurors stood up to the judge, and told this judge that they felt the whole case was a waste of their time and tax dollars. All of them refused to try the case. This is called Jury Nullification. and, as Americans, this is one way we can change the laws which govern us as a society. If all of us as a people stand up, and refuse to try cases like these, the laws will have to be changed.
  3. MTRaised
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    MTRaised - January 11, 2012 10:25 am
    I think life in prison is a little on the extreme side. Even a year, really. There are people that do so much worse and get off so much easier. I agree with Goldstein. This is going to cost us way more than it's worth.
  4. oneputt
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    oneputt - January 11, 2012 8:25 am
    Yeah no wonder our country has a trillion dollar deficit, and the largest prison population on earth, what a waste of money and resources!!! Im glad our county is getting ready to build a new jail to house all these "smokers" they are busting with a few grams, Jail is for the REAL CRIMINALS that HARM other people not a victimless crime that 99% of the time happens in the privacy of there own home!, what a joke! i will say that i will be voting and campaigning against all budget raises or leveys for our law enforcement and this new jail,if this is how they waste my taxpayer money money by locking a guy up for life just for a couple grams of pot! I hope im on this JURY!!
  5. thatsjustme
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    thatsjustme - January 10, 2012 11:43 pm
    NEWS FLASH! The black market is booming while our tax dollars are hard at work throwing these criminals in jail! Didn't you know? Thank goodness they busted this guy! Yes, I'm so very glad that instead of taxing these "dopers" and giving the money to hmmm...schools perhaps, they're throwing these "criminals" in jail while the citizens of this state are footing the bill. What a fantastic idea! Go us! Woofreakinhoo!

    Seriously...what a waste of time and money.
  6. Curmudgeon
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    Curmudgeon - January 09, 2012 12:25 pm
    One year to life in prison?

    In Montana even some MURDERERS don't get life sentences.

    Something out of whack here.
  7. honeygetm'gun
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    honeygetm'gun - January 07, 2012 10:32 am
    Did you know that a nickel weighs five grams?
    What a waste of your tax dollars.
  8. Riamh
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    Riamh - January 07, 2012 10:05 am
    Well put Ggoldstein and foolslayer. IR, seriously, this story's hyped to the moon and back. This case is so piddly, the potential jurors should stand up and refuse to try the case. Jury Nullification, just like what happened in Missoula. 1 year to life over a piddly misdemeanor amount? What ever happened to let the punishment fit the crime?

    Ok, granted, this guy broke the law, and should be punished for his infraction, but the system is going to spend lots of money to incarcerate, and prosecute this guy, over $20 worth of cannabis.
  9. Foolslayer
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    Foolslayer - January 07, 2012 9:46 am
    You're right, Blackheart. It does affect TAXPAYING CITIZENS. They will be asked to finance a new jail to support these victimless BS arrests.
  10. Goldstein84
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    Goldstein84 - January 07, 2012 9:07 am
    I'm getting queasy about the thought that this is what you load your paper with... yellow journalism. The quantity of cannabis is alarmingly insignificant; the location of the infraction isn't worth noting; his history of doing art for the Grateful Dead is sensationalism at best; and the article hypes up the sentence until the end. Try this:

    Transient gets free room and board for the most negligible crime possible.

    Set this guy free... otherwise, we'll spend a ton of tax dollars for a twenty dollar sack.
  11. RationalThought
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    RationalThought - January 07, 2012 9:04 am
    Ah yes, the same old familiar friends: food stamps and weed. Just like salt and pepper. Just like peanut butter and jelly. And hey you, hatrack, I think it's news, I want to know who is out there selling drugs. And honestly, I like seeing people getting busted for using or selling drugs. It makes me smile.
  12. justme59601
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    justme59601 - January 07, 2012 8:42 am
    an artist does mj??? no way, i can't believe it. LOL probably voted for oknucklehead too....
  13. blackheart
    Report Abuse
    blackheart - January 07, 2012 8:41 am
    oh yea, hatboy...this affects all the citizens, especially TAX PAYING CITIZENS...something you seem to know nothing about...
  14. blackheart
    Report Abuse
    blackheart - January 07, 2012 8:38 am
    This is headline news here dude!! Shows what being a drug addict nets you, another scumbag in the lockup, GREAT JOB HELENA PD, glad you busted this criminal, too bad for this so-called "artist", he should have never picked up the pipe....
  15. hatrack71
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    hatrack71 - January 07, 2012 7:00 am
    Dear IR, this is not news. When are you going to print the real news that actually is affecting the citizens.

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