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.