By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — A local man was convicted on cocaine possession charges, but avoided a much longer sentence after being found not guilty on dealing and habitual offender charges.
Marquise R. McCloud, 33, was found guilty of possession of cocaine, a Class A felony, after a two-day trial wrapped up on Wednesday. He was found not guilty of an additional charge of dealing cocaine, and Madison Circuit Court 4 Judge David Happe ruled McCloud was not eligible for an enhanced status of being a habitual offender.
According to a probable cause affidavit of the case, McCloud was found with more than three grams of crack cocaine in the 2400 block of West 24th Street on Feb. 25. Two officers, who were searching the neighborhood for another man wanted on a warrant, drove by a home in the area and saw McCloud and two other men in a driveway.
When the officers approached McCloud, he reportedly started digging through his pockets feverishly, as if he were trying to get something out. One of the officers, who had just arrested McCloud four days before on another drug charge, believed McCloud was reaching for a weapon and started shouting for McCloud to raise his hands.
McCloud allegedly refused and kept digging in his pockets, and the officers drew their weapons and continued to command McCloud to raise his hands. He finally complied, and the officers found keys, a wallet, a cellphone and a bag filled with the crack cocaine. According to the affidavit, McCloud told the officers he had stolen the drugs from someone else.
Defense attorney Zaki Ali, who represented McCloud in the case, said he was pleased with the verdict despite the conviction because the result wasn't as bad as it could've been.
"With the dealing charge, he was looking at a maximum of 50 years on that, and with the habitual charge, he was looking at upward of 70 years, if not more," Ali said. "He's still looking at prison time, but not nearly the amount that was on the line."
Ali also said that part of his strategy involved admitting McCloud was in possession of the drugs, but that he had no intention of dealing.
"There was no way around it," Ali said. "If we had said anything to the contrary, it wouldn't have been true."
For McCloud to be eligible for the enhanced habitual offender status, it needed to be proved that he was within 1,000 feet of a community housing project and that he intended to deliver the drugs to someone under 18 years old. Happe said the state couldn't prove the latter.
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