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Elijah Graham Borkowski was convicted of drug charges more than three years after his initial arrest. Graham pleaded not guilty to one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute but agreed not to challenge the state's version of the facts. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but nine years suspended but is appealing the ruling. Full story: <a href="http://bit.ly/1QHTbfM">http://bit.ly/1QHTbfM</a>
Elijah Graham Borkowski was convicted of drug charges more than three years after his initial arrest. Graham pleaded not guilty to one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute but agreed not to challenge the state's version of the facts. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but nine years suspended but is appealing the ruling. Full story: http://bit.ly/1QHTbfM (HANDOUT)

A Baltimore man was convicted of drug charges Tuesday — more than three years after his initial arrest — but will not begin his sentence right away because he is appealing a judge's ruling on evidence issues.

Elijah Graham Borkowski, 38, pleaded not guilty to one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute but agreed not to challenge the state's version of the facts. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but nine years suspended.

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Borkowski told Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Michael M. Galloway on Tuesday that he knows he has wasted a lot of people's time, including the court, as a result of his addiction and while this case was pending he has been in recovery and attending self-help meetings.

"I know this has been an ongoing problem for most of my adult life," he said. "I've already missed enough, and I've messed up my life and my family's lives."

Borkowski's attorney, Larry Greenberg, has maintained his objection to the Jan. 20, 2012, traffic stop and search of his client's car that led to police finding prescription drugs and cocaine.

Greenberg announced his intention to appeal Galloway's decision not to throw out evidence found as a result of the stop and search, and Borkowski will remain out on bond while the appeal is pending.

"Hopefully, this won't be the first case where I've ever been reversed two times," Galloway said. The judge previously granted a motion to suppress evidence filed by the defense, but the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the state's second highest court, reversed the decision.

A trooper from the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack stopped Borkowski's car Jan. 20, 2012, near the intersection of Md. 140 and Market Street, after he saw a plastic cover over the car's license plate and what he believed to be illegal window tints, according to Deputy State's Attorney Edward Coyne.

The trooper was on the lookout for Borkowski's car after another driver called 911 to report that he was possibly impaired, according to court records, but the trooper himself did not note in his statement of probable cause any signs of drunken or drugged driving before pulling Borkowski over.

It was later determined that both the license plate cover and window tints on Borkowski's car did not violate Maryland law, according to records.

Galloway granted a motion to suppress evidence from the stop after a hearing in February 2013 and the state appealed. In the intervening months, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a reliable report of an impaired driver made to 911 was sufficient probable cause to stop a car.

The Court of Special Appeals, relying on the Supreme Court ruling, reversed and remanded the case in September 2014, and a second motions hearing was held to re-argue the constitutionality of the traffic stop and additionally debate the search of the car, something Galloway did not rule on in 2013.

Once Borkowski's car was stopped, the trooper determined he could be impaired by drugs or alcohol based on his appearance and behavior, according to court records.

The trooper wrote in the statement of probable cause that he was not going to allow Borkowski to drive away because he believed he could not do so safely even though there was not enough evidence to charge him with driving while impaired.

A K-9 team was called during the traffic stop — after Borkowski successfully completed field sobriety tests — and the dog alerted the presence of drugs in the vehicle, according to Coyne. Greenberg said the dog's handler testified previously that the dog "took a deep breath" during the scan but did not otherwise alter behavior and did not amount to an alert.

Greenberg also argued the traffic stop went on far too long to be justified because Borkowski did not fail field sobriety tests and there was no other reason to detain him. The K-9 team arrived 33 minutes after the initial traffic stop and 15 minutes after field sobriety tests were administered.

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Borkowski will begin his sentence after the appeal is settled and will be tested for drug and alcohol use by pretrial services in the meantime. Galloway said he will consider modifying Borkowski's sentence, if he has to serve it, when he nears his parole date to allow him to enter in-patient substance abuse treatment.

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