Stark County jury acquits suspected marijuana trafficker

A jury acquitted Arturas Teras, who was accused of possessing nearly 50 pounds of marijuana, after less than an hour of deliberation Thursday afternoon at the Stark County Courthouse. Donatas Jasiulionis was supposed to stand trial with Teras, but he skipped back to their native country, officials said. “He voluntarily deported back to Lithuania before the trial,” said Kelly Armstrong, Jasiulionis’s attorney. “If he ever comes back into the country, they’ll arrest him immediately.”

Tom Henning, Stark County state’s attorney, said an arrest warrant was issued for Jasiulionis, but officials will likely not extradite him. “Given the fact that it’s not a murder, we’ve only got so much to work with and this is not something I would expend those types of funds on,” Henning said. Teras and Jasiulionis were arrested and charged with possession and intent to deliver marijuana in November 2009 after a North Dakota Highway Patrol officer pulled over a van they were in.

Teras’s attorney, Mary Nordsven, told jurors there was not enough evidence to prove charges, even though Teras was driving the vehicle the drugs were discovered in. “We do know that this is not my client’s vehicle,” Nordsven said. “There is no real concrete evidence that ties my client to what was in the hatch of that vehicle.” However, Henning, told jurors to look at the suspect’s actions after being pulled over. NDHP Officer Travis Holding Eagle had testified Teras seemed agitated and nervous.

“We’ve got the means and we’ve got the material and who’s driving the car? The defendant,” Henning told jurors. He added Teras had a medical marijuana license and the amount of marijuana found in the vehicle exceeded what would be used for personal consumption. “You can’t ignore the elephant in the room,” Henning said, pointing to the large boxes containing the marijuana. Nordsven pointed out while Jasiulionis’s fingerprints were found on the bags of marijuana, Teras’ were not.

“I’m going to argue that a certain Donatas knew very well that there was marijuana in the car,” she said. Nordsven advised jurors who didn’t feel there was “reasonable doubt” in the case to inspect their friends’ vehicles before entering them. After the trial, Henning said the verdict was “disappointing.” Nordsven declined comment.

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