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Defendant has 'problems,' but is not a drug dealer, lawyer says


A witness called by Diane Wisner's lawyer labeled the 34-year-old woman a "professional thief."

And two of Wisner's friends testified that she used cocaine -- a lot of it.

But Wisner is not a drug dealer, said her lawyer, Stephen P. Bourexis, during his opening statements to the jury in a trial that will resume tomorrow when lawyers give their closing arguments in Carroll Circuit Court.

Wisner is in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, where she is serving a two-year sentence from an October conviction for cocaine distribution. Her arrest in January came three days before she received the two-year sentence.

The state rested its case against Wisner on Friday.

"She has problems," Mr. Bourexis told the jury. "She has difficulties. She's a drug addict."

"She is not a drug dealer," he said. "I repeat: She is not a drug dealer."

Mr. Bourexis called witnesses to show that the ounce of cocaine police found in her jacket, purse and home were all for Wisner's own voraciousconsumption.

But one of the police officers who arrested Wisner on Jan. 15 testified that the amount of cocaine, cash, paraphernalia and two guns police found are typical of drug dealers.

"It's my opinion Ms. Wisner was an addict but also a dealer selling drugs to supplement her habit," said Detective Sgt. Andrew McKendrick of Westminster Police and a member of the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force.

Wisner and her brother, Jay Dew Boyd of the same address, were arrested in January while driving her Ford Ranger south on Littlestown Pike near Turkeyfoot Road. Mr. Boyd is awaiting trial.

Wisner was originally charged on eight counts: two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, two counts of cocaine possession, two counts of possession of paraphernalia and two counts of maintaining a common nuisance.

Circuit Court Judge Francis M. Arnold Friday dismissed three of the counts. The counts dismissed are one each of possession, possession with intent to distribute and paraphernalia.

Mr. Bourexis called to the stand two people identified as friends of Wisner's: Sharon Reed, 23, of McSherrystown, Pa., and Lucinda Mellema, 21, of Westminster.

"I've seen her go through five or six grams within three or four hours," Ms. Reed said.

Both knew Wisner from seeing her at the Tollgate Inn, a bar on Littlestown Pike.

"Every time I turned around, she'd be in the bathroom smoking coke," Ms. Mellema said.

Sharon Wisniewski of Manchester, a store detective for Ames in Westminster and formerly Kmart, testified that she observed Wisner stealing merchandise numerous times since 1988 and helped prosecute her once. "I would characterize her as a professional thief," she said.

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