Jury finds man not guilty of drug dealing
Jurors found a Madison man facing drug dealing charges not guilty on both counts - but did find him guilty of a lesser drug possession charge - after more than five hours of deliberation Thursday. The jury of 12 announced the decision to convict Benny Scott Cyrus, 42, of a Level 6 felony count of possession of methamphetamine following a three-day trial in Jefferson Circuit Court. Jurors found Cyrus not guilty of Level 4 felony counts of dealing methamphetamine and conspiracy to deal in methamphetamine, which stemmed from a controlled buy at an East First Street home in March 2016. Cyrus said after the pronouncement of the verdict that the wait for the decision was tough - one of the hardest things he’s had to do. “Just glad the system worked like it was supposed to,” he said. The lengthy deliberation showed just how much thought went into the jurors’ decision, Cyrus’ defense attorney Della Swincher said. “Our jury system works,” she said. “Jurors take their assignment very seriously.” Chief Deputy Prosecutor D.J. Mote expressed disappointment in the verdict, saying he is concerned about the message the decision might send to the community. Still, he vowed prosecutors will continue to pursue those kinds of cases in the future. In another case, a jury found a woman guilty of dealing methamphetamine earlier this year after she handed a digital scale to her boyfriend to weigh drugs during a controlled buy. Mote said he didn’t see a difference in the two circumstances, and anyone present at a home and participating in a drug deal in any way should be held responsible. “Our county is just being ravaged by methamphetamine,” he said. “It’s disheartening, but I respect their decision.” “That’s what juries are for. The people decide,” he said. During his closing arguments, Mote told jurors the majority of their deliberation would most likely focus on whether or not Cyrus and the target seller in the controlled buy had agreed to commit the crime together and whether Cyrus “delivered” methamphetamine. A witness had already testified that the substance was positive for methamphetamine and weighed more than two grams - two of the elements that prosecutors must prove to get a conviction for dealing methamphetamine. Mote told jurors the plan in this case wasn’t elaborate or written down. “There was an agreement,” Mote said. “Everybody in that tiny room was in agreement.” Mote also focused on the delivery of the illegal substance. He argued Cyrus took control over the drug when he tied the bag containing the drug shut before handing it over. “You all decide if the proof is there,” he said. “And it is.” Swincher asked jurors to think about the evidence presented in the case. The evidence pointed to a pre-arranged agreement to deal drugs between the confidential informant and the targeted seller. The target even exchanged money for the drugs she provided to the informant. “I know the prosecution doesn’t have to prove the money, but it’s part of the deal,” Swincher said. Swincher also noted the informant diverted the open bag of drugs from herself to others in the room by refusing to close the bag herself. She argued there was no conspiracy or intention to deal when Cyrus tied the bag and passed it on. She asked jurors to consider another situation: If a stranger holds a common door to a building open for two people carrying a chest - an item they just stole from a home - should the person holding the door also be charged? “Use your common sense,” she said. A sentencing for Cyrus on the Level 6 felony count of possession of methamphetamine will be held at a later date.