Third time is charm for prosecutors against repeat defendant

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: February 10, 2012, 8:39 PM

 

Nathan Gadberry’s winning streak at trial ended Friday.

After deliberating two hours following a four-day trial, a Clark County jury unanimously voted to convict the Yacolt man of one count of possession of methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to deliver.

Gadberry was led away in handcuffs. It had been different in earlier cases, when he had been acquitted in May of being an accomplice to a shooting and robbery and he was acquitted again in November of kidnapping and burglary charges.

Gadberry’s drug conviction gives him a 2-1 record overall against the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office in the past year.

But that’s not the record that counts for sentencing.

Based on the 38-year-old’s extensive criminal history, including at least four felony convictions, Gadberry faces a sentencing range of seven to 12 years in prison, said Deputy Prosecutor Randy St. Clair.

The sentencing range includes an enhancement because the jury found that Gadberry had possession of drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

He will be sentenced Feb. 22.

The Superior Court jury also convicted Gadberry’s co-defendant, Danielle Newton, of the same charges. While she dropped her head and cried upon hearing the verdict, Gadberry showed no emotion as Judge Scott Collier read the verdicts.

Prosecutor St. Clair alleged at trial that Gadberry and Newton had been stopped by a police officer Dec. 9 in the Fruit Valley area because Gadberry had an outstanding warrant. Police found a digital scale in Gadberry’s pocket and other drug paraphernalia in the car.

Intent to sell

After impounding the car and executing a search warrant, officers also found 4.8 grams of meth in the car’s console. To prove the two had intent to sell, St. Clair showed jurors text messages in a phone that both Gadberry and Newton used, which included conversations about selling meth.

There was also another scale found in the car as well as spoons, cellophane, bags and needles, St. Clair said in his closing argument Thursday.

Gadberry’s defense attorney Jason Bailes had tried to make the case that there wasn’t enough evidence to show Gadberry had intent to deliver.

Unlike the previous ­trials, jurors decided there was enough proof.

At his May trial, Gadberry had claimed he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when two other men beat a resident of the Red Haven Apartments and shot him in the hand in the victim’s apartment. He avoided first-degree ­assault and first-degree robbery convictions.

After becoming tangled in the law again the next month, Gadberry was arrested and accused of first-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary charges for allegedly barging into a home and demanding $100 from a resident.

Gadberry’s defense when he went to trial in November was that he knew the alleged victim and the man owed him money. Gadberry also said the alleged victim voluntarily got in his car and left the home with him.

Witnesses — who, according to police, initially said they were terrified of Gadberry — testified in favor of Gadberry at trial.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey, who tried Gadberry in both previous cases, showed up in Collier’s courtroom Friday after the verdict was read.

“Mr. St. Clair served the interest of justice,” he said. “There has never been a grudge” against Gadberry. “He just keeps coming up on our radar.”

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