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Defense loses its plea to dismiss drug case Judge paves way for cocaine trial


For more than an hour yesterday, Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. listened intently to a defense attorney's reasons for dropping the latest drug distribution case against already-convicted cocaine dealer Diane Linn Wisner.

Then he rejected them all.

"I find an overabundance of information here to establish probable cause," Judge Burns told attorney Stephen P. Bourexis in denying all defense motions to throw out a search warrant and dismiss the eight-count criminal indictment.

Judge Burns' ruling paves the way for a July 8 trial in which Wisner, 33, faces three counts of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, two counts of cocaine possession, two counts of paraphernalia possession and one count of maintaining a common nuisance.

Prosecutors are seeking to use the state's so-called "two-time loser" statute, which calls for a minimum, mandatory sentence of 10 years without parole if Wisner is convicted.

The indictment was returned soon after Carroll County Narcotics Task Force officers stopped Wisner's car on Route 97 in January. The task force was tipped by an informant that Wisner would be driving from Littlestown, Pa., into Maryland with drugs that day. After a drug-sniffing dog reacted to the car, the officers searched and found drugs in the car and in Wisner's jacket.

Later that day, officers obtained a search warrant for Wisner's parents' home, where she lived. They seized $2,800 worth of cocaine, three handguns, drug paraphernalia and nearly $3,400 in cash at the home.

Most of Mr. Bourexis' arguments for throwing out the warrant -- and the case -- focused on the traffic stop and the information used to persuade Judge Francis M. Arnold to sign the search warrant.

"Prior to the traffic stop, and the drug-sniffing dog, we have a paltry situation," Mr. Bourexis said. "The probable cause, it's just not there. And, without that, the whole house of cards falls down."

Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, the task force coordinator, contended that the traffic stop, the warrant and the search all were properly executed.

"This is a classic case of police officers doing what is prescribed by law," the prosecutor said.

Mr. Bourexis -- a long-standing thorn in the sides of task force officers -- threw several arguments at Judge Burns, only to be rebuffed. The defense attorney tried to question state police Tfc. Robert Heuisler -- the task force member who applied for the search warrant -- on the structure of the drug group.

"I don't think that's relevant," the judge said.

Mr. Bourexis, who last week appealed the dismissal of his $10.5 million lawsuit against the drug group, then tried to attack the credibility of the confidential informant used by Trooper Heuisler.

"I will ask you one more question," the defense attorney said. "Did you ask the confidential informant if he had a bias against the defendant?"

"Yes," the trooper answered, smiling broadly.

"Well . . . ?"

"You said only one more question, Mr. Bourexis," the trooper said.

"Trooper Heuisler, you look like the cat that just swallowed the canary," the attorney responded.

In the end, Judge Burns praised Trooper Heuisler's work as he rejected all of Mr. Bourexis' arguments.

Wisner, of Littlestown Pike, is serving two years in state prison for a 1992 conviction on cocaine possession and distribution charges. Last May, members of the task force stopped Wisner and her mother in Westminster as the women were on their way home from a grocery store. Less than an ounce of cocaine was found in the car. Her mother wasn't charged.

Last fall, Wisner entered a plea agreement that called for a suspended jail sentence. She was arrested on the new charges Jan. 15, three days before Judge Arnold sentenced her on the May charges.

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