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United States v. Turks

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division

July 26, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff
v.
Lloyd Turks, Defendant

          ORDER

          James G. Carr Sr. U.S. District Judge.

         In this criminal case, defendant Lloyd Turks faces five drug charges under 21 U.S.C. § 842. The government alleges, in part, that Turks sold its informant a mixture containing Schedule I controlled substances U47700 and acetyl fentanyl and analogue controlled substances cyclopropyl fentanyl and methoxyacetyl fentanyl and that the mixture caused a near-fatal overdose.[1]

         Pending are Turks's motion for an order authorizing independent blood testing (Doc. 58) and his motion to produce witnesses for trial and make available witnesses who are amenable to pretrial interviews (Doc. 69). For the reasons that follow, I deny both motions, the latter without prejudice.[2]

         Background

         On August 22, 2017, law enforcement stopped a vehicle just north of Dayton, Ohio, and found drugs - including methamphetamine, cocaine, and, according to Turks, fentanyl - in the car.[3] (Doc. 69 at 5; see also Doc. 44 at 3).[4] Turks was not involved in the Dayton drug deal, but the vehicle's occupants told law enforcement that they had previously bought drugs from him. Two of the vehicle's three passengers agreed to be confidential informants (CIs) in the government's investigation of Turks. (Doc. 44 at 3, n.2). Later that evening, the CIs participated in a controlled buy and purchased cocaine from Turks while under government surveillance. (Doc. 44 at 3).

         The next day, on August 23, 2017, “[t]emptation apparently struck, ” and, on his or her own and not as part of a controlled buy, one CI bought more drugs from Turks. (Id. at 4). The CI subsequently overdosed in his or her hotel room, where the other CI found the overdose victim and called emergency personnel. (Id.).

         One day later, on August 24, 2017, the overdose victim participated in another controlled buy, asking Turks for more of the substance from the previous day. (Doc. 44 at 5). Turks agreed and provided the victim 6.83 grams of a mixture containing U47700, acetyl fentanyl, cyclopropyl fentanyl, and methoxyacetyl fentanyl. (See id.). Authorities then arrested Turks. (See id.).

         The government later sent a sample of the victim's blood to Axis Forensic Technology (AFT) for testing.[5] AFT's tests detected the presence of that same substances in the victim's blood as those in the mixture Turks sold in the August 24, 2017 controlled buy. (See Doc. 44 at 5; Doc. 53 (filed ex parte)). Only .5 mL of the victim's blood remains after the testing. (Doc. 73 at 2).

         Discussion

         I. The Request for Independent Blood Testing

         Turks asks that I authorize the coroner's department to release the remaining blood evidence for testing at an independent laboratory. He asserts that AFT's tests are unreliable because AFT did not test for heroin in addition to fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. (See Doc. 58 at 2).

         I will deny this request.

         Turks presents no testimony or other evidence casting doubt on the reliability of AFT's testing methods. Instead, he asks me to accept his own speculative suppositions about the propriety of AFT's testing methods. He contends, in effect, that such guesswork suffices to authorize independent testing. (See Doc. 53; Doc. 55 at 2). Moreover, the parties do not dispute that the testing that Turks requests “will consume the remainder of the blood evidence.” (Doc. 73 at 3).[6]

         Turks has not presented grounds warranting the extraordinary remedy he seeks, i.e., ordering a further test that would consume all of the remaining blood sample. Moreover, as noted, he offers no reason to order independent testing without proof undermining AFT's tests and results. I therefore reject his motion for such testing.

         II. The Request for Witness Identification

         Next, Turks asks that I “order the Government to produce certain witnesses for trial whose identities and contact information were withheld from the defense[.]” (Doc. 69 at 1). He further asks “to inquire of every witness whose identity has been withheld whether the witness would be willing to have an interview before trial[, ]” and, ...


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