Lapses in handling of evidence lead to acquittal of MJ ‘dealer’

THE Supreme Court (SC) saved a man from Balamban town, Cebu from rotting in jail for allegedly selling illegal drugs in 2005.

The SC’s Third Division reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals and acquitted Lee Quijano-Enad, who was jailed on accusations that he engaged in selling marijuana.

“With the failure of the prosecution to prove with moral certainty the identity and the unbroken chain of custody of the dangerous drugs seized from him, appellant deserves exoneration from the crime charged,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Presbiter Velasco.

Police arrested Enad in a buy-bust for allegedly selling 2,722 grams of dried marijuana in Barangay Bayong, Balamban, Cebu last Aug. 14, 2005.

In August 2009, the Regional Trial Court Branch 29 in Toledo City found Enad guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Sec. 5, Article 2 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The court sentenced Enad to life imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of P500, 000.

Enad appealed his conviction before the Court of Appeals and argued the policemen failed to mark the marijuana immediately after they were seized from him.

He said that these gaps in the chain of custody of the marijuana allegedly seized from him created doubt as to the integrity of the evidence.

Such violated the procedural requirements of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act on the custody and disposition of seized dangerous drugs.

In the decision, the appeals court dismissed Enad’s appeal and affirmed the trial court’s decision.

The appellate court agreed with the trial court that all the elements of illegal sale of dangerous drugs were proven.

In the decision, the high court reversed the appeals court’s decision and acquitted Enad of illegal drugs charges.

“The prosecution failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt the first three links in the chain of custody,” the high court said.

The prosecution evidence failed to show that the poseur-buyer and the arresting officer marked the bag of marijuana allegedly seized from Enad.

Likewise, the high court ordered the director of the Bureau of Corrections to release Enad, unless he is being detained for another offense. 

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