CHARLESTON -- A drug possession charge against a Mattoon man was dismissed after a judge decided the drugs were found during an illegal search.

Matthew B. McGuire, 66, for whom court records list an address of 122 Woodlawn Ave., was accused of having a painkiller medication without a prescription that a police officer reportedly found in his vehicle during a traffic stop.

Records in the case say Coles County sheriff's deputy Thomas Williamson stopped McGuire's vehicle in Mattoon on Aug. 4 because of damaged signal lights.

Williams reported that McGuire showed signs of impairment, leading to his arrest and a search of the vehicle during which the painkiller medication was found, the records say.

Circuit Judge Brien O'Brien made the ruling on the search based a motion to suppress evidence from defense attorney Todd Reardon. Granting the motion meant the reported discovery of the drugs couldn't be used as evidence against McGuire.

Among the motion's contentions were that Williamson had to "reasonably infer" that McGuire had committed a crime but the damage to the vehicle's signal lights wasn't enough to reach that conclusion.

In her response, Assistant State's Attorney Joy Wolf said Williamson had cause to stop the vehicle and McGuire's signs of impairment led to the vehicle's search.

However, O'Brien agreed with Reardon's contentions, which also included that there was no reason to believe McGuire was under the influence at the time. McGuire didn't consent to the vehicle search, the motion also said.

The dismissed drug possession charge was a felony offense and McGuire would have faced a prison sentence of one to three years or up to 2 1/2 years of probation had there been a conviction.

A misdemeanor driving under the influence charge was also dismissed. McGuire did plead guilty to a traffic citation charge alleging he drove the vehicle while its signal lights were damaged.

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