Oroville mom's hearing opens with testimony about husband's pot plant production
06/12/2012 12:00 AM
01/03/2013 11:37 PM
A Butte County prosecutor Monday presented testimony in hopes of bringing a felony child abuse trial against an Oroville mother whose newborn baby and 14-month toddler were allegedly in a home with marijuana buds, hash and residues.
The case of Daisy Bram, 30, stirred the ire of medical marijuana advocates after an audiotape went viral of Bram shrieking in tears as child welfare officers took away her children during a raid on a pot garden last Sept. 29.
The story took another twist Monday as a prosecutor opened a preliminary hearing with authorities describing marijuana plants and pot concentrates – or hash – cultivated and produced by Bram's husband, Jayme Walsh. A police witness also said Walsh told officers he snorted an anti-anxiety drug in a bathroom where they found syringes in a bag in a cabinet beneath the sink.
However, it was Daisy Bram – not her husband – who faced the preliminary hearing for felony child abuse and misdemeanor child endangerment.
Bram, who claims she and her husband used pot for medical purposes, suggested she was being targeted Monday for the video and blasts at the district attorney and child welfare officers for taking away her children for four months after the marijuana raid.
"I think it's obviously because I've made such a public stink," Bram said of the case.
Butte County Superior Court Judge Stephen J. Howell threw out child abuse and endangerment charges against both parents in November but ordered Walsh to stand trial for marijuana manufacturing and both parents to be tried for possession of marijuana for sale.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey refiled the child abuse counts only against Bram, who asserted she was being signaled out for breast-feeding toddler Thor and newborn Zeus while using pot.
Before resting the prosecution case Monday, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Greeson presented no evidence or assertions about breast-feeding.
Instead, former Butte County DA investigator Eric Clay, who participated in the marijuana raid, testified that the home presented a danger to children because the place was strewn with marijuana buds and Pyrex dishes of hash, some of which could be reached by Thor.
Clay testified there was an additional danger to children because the marijuana garden, including 38 outdoor and 58 indoor plants, could draw armed robbers.
Defense attorney Michael Levinsohn challenged a prosecution document from a Kansas laboratory and testimony by a Butte County narcotics deputy that asserted hair samples from Thor tested positive for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot.
Citing contradictory dates for when the hair sample was taken and claiming the sample custody wasn't protected, Levinsohn said, "We have no evidence as to what happened with the sample and what happened as to some unrelated sample that was tested halfway across the country."
Butte County Judge James Reilley threw out the lab document but ruled testimony on the test results could stand.
The case drew marijuana advocates, including Ed Rosenthal, a famed author of pot cultivation guides who was called by the defense but didn't take the witness stand on Monday.
In court, doctors dueled over whether Thor could have tested positive for THC by eating raw marijuana that could have been in the house.
Dr. Angela Rosas, chief of pediatrics of Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, testified for the prosecution that the marijuana in the house, including hash made from potent marijuana resins, presented an implicit "hazard to the children" if they ate it.
Dr. William Courtney, a Humboldt and Mendocino County medical marijuana physician who advises patients to juice pot into medicinal shakes for therapeutic or analgesic relief, testified that pot releases no detectable THC unless it is heated. He said the toddler would have had to devour a mass of raw marijuana larger than a softball to test positive for psychoactive elements.
"The amount you would have to eat would be physically impossible," Courtney testified. He added: "It tastes horrible."
Reilley ordered the case continued on June 26.
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