Yacolt man hopes third time in court still charms

He's been acquitted of felony charges in two trials in the past year




Nathan Gadberry, second from right, waits for Judge Scott Collier to finish jury instructions Tuesday, the second day of his trial on charges of possession of methamphetamine. Gadberry has been acquitted of two serious felonies in the past eight months.

Nathan Gadberry is batting 2-0 against the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.

Each time the Yacolt man has gone to trial over the past year, he’s been acquitted by a jury of serious felony crimes.

Last May, he was acquitted of being an accomplice in a shooting and a robbery. Then, prosecutors alleged, the newly freed Gadberry committed a burglary five weeks later. He went to trial on that case in November and was found not guilty of charges — again.

This week, the 38-year-old is hoping to extend his streak for a third time on charges of possession of methamphetamine. The four-day trial in Judge Scott Collier’s courtroom is expected to wrap up Thursday.

Gadberry, who has several misdemeanors and four felony convictions in his background, including extortion, is becoming a familiar name in Clark County Superior Court. This is the second time he’s gone to trial before Collier. And Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey has also tried him twice.

So how did Gadberry avoid conviction in the previous two cases?

The first time Gadberry went to trial, in May, he said he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two other men had confronted a victim at his apartment at the Red Haven Apartments about a drug debt and he said they beat the man, also shooting him in the hand.

Gadberry claimed at trial he had been in the apartment at the time of the assault, but was there to see a woman. Prosecutor Harvey had argued Gadberry was in on the plan and that witnesses supported that.

Jurors were not persuaded. After deliberating three hours, they unanimously acquitted him of any wrongdoing. Gadberry’s two co-defendants were convicted in separate proceedings; one received 23 years in prison and the other, 15 years.

Five weeks after being released from jail, on June 22, Gadberry became tangled with the law again. Witnesses told police Gadberry barged into a Vancouver home and demanded $100 from a victim. When he didn’t comply, witnesses said Gadberry forced the alleged victim, Dwayne Reed, into a car until he gave him the money.

The prosecutor’s office charged Gadberry with first-degree burglary and first-degree kidnapping.

Gadberry’s defense when he went to trial in November was that he knew Reed and the man owed him money. He also said Reed voluntarily got in his car. “It was key to show it wasn’t consensual,” Harvey said.

As it turned out, though, witnesses — who, according to police, initially said they were terrified of Gadberry — testified in favor of Gadberry at trial.

“Essentially, (the victim) said he wasn’t frightened of Gadberry,” Harvey said.

So that took care of Gadberry’s second acquittal.

His latest run-in with the law came Dec. 9. As Gadberry was being arrested on an outstanding warrant, officers allegedly found him in possession of a drug scale. The scale had residue, which police said tested positive for methamphetamine.

Gadberry went to trial Monday on charges of possession of meth with intent to deliver and possession of meth.

It’s too soon to know the outcome. On Tuesday, the prosecution was still making its case and closing arguments weren’t expected until late Wednesday or Thursday morning.

Laura McVicker: http://twitter.com/col_courts; http://facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.