I kid you not.
A 23 year-old Gainesville, Florida area woman was arrested back in early July on suspicion that she was in possession of methamphetamine. Police arrested Ashley Huff after they found a spoon with a “suspicious residue” in the car that she was riding in. Almost immediately she was told that officers believed the residue to be meth. The woman insisted that she wasn’t using, selling or making meth and continually expressed her innocence.
None of that mattered.
The police believed the substance on the spoon was meth, so she was arrested; since she couldn’t afford bail, she was forced to remain in jail for over a month!
In August the court finally appointed Ms. Huff a lawyer and he began working on a plea deal that would get her out of jail. However, the wheels of justice moved slow, and it would still be another few weeks before she was released… but not because of her attorney’s work.
The Crime Lab had finally completed its analysis of the spoon found in Ms. Huff’s car and what they discovered was… spaghetti sauce. Ms. Huff had been suggesting that the substance on the spoon had been from a can of Spaghetti O’s from the very beginning… but no one believed her. Until the Crime Lab proved her story true.
Now the woman is considering suing the Hall County police for their part in keeping her locked up for all those weeks.
But there is something even more disconcerting in all this.
Her lawyer, Chris van Rossum, discusses why this case was terrible but could have been even worse.
I think what the unfortunate part about her case is that she was probably willing to take the felony to close out her case so that she get out of jail, even though she always maintained innocence,” van Rossem said.
This case was exceptional because the residue ended up being Spaghetti O’s. But it seems likely that this kind of thing could probably happen pretty often. If the suspects are poor and unable to bail themselves out or pay for a good lawyer, this could easily happen to them too. This is one of those cautionary tales that underscores our need for some legal reforms – especially when dealing with the poor.