Man convicted of drug possession

Body: 

A 23-year-old Chicago man was sentenced last month more than a year after his arrest.

Sharquis Darrion Wright pled guilty to felony second-degree drug possession May 17 in Carlton County Sixth District Court. A felony third-degree possession of cocaine/heroin/methamphetamine and misdemeanor obstructing legal process were dismissed.

According to the criminal complaint: A Minnesota State Patrol Trooper clocked a vehicle traveling 77 miles per hour on northbound Interstate 35 in Carlton County around 9 a.m. Jan. 13, 2016.

He stopped the vehicle and the driver gave what later turned out to be a false identification. A female passenger in the front seat tried to find insurance on the vehicle, but was not successful.

As the trooper talked to Wright, who was seated in the back, he noticed the odor of marijuana inside the vehicle.

Next the trooper ran the identification information from the driver and discovered inconsistencies with the physical description and the actual driver of the vehicle, which caused him to suspect the information was false.

When the trooper asked the occupants to get out of the vehicle, he noticed Wright place his hands behind his back and start squirming as if he were trying to hide something.

The trooper feared Wright may have been reaching for a weapon, and after repeated requests to Wright to show his hands, the trooper drew his weapon.

The trooper decided to holster his weapon and drag Wright out of the car instead. While he was dragging him out the trooper could feel a suspicious package in the buttocks area where Wright had been reaching for while in the car.

The trooper cuffed Wright and retrieved the package which was found to be about 74 grams of packaged heroin and 3.6 grams of crack cocaine.

Wright was arrested and the driver was positively identified as Nathan Edward Birkholz, 24, who had active warrants for his arrest. The trooper found cotton drenched swabs that tested positive for heroin in Birkholz's jacket, along with other drug paraphernalia and hypodermic needles.

Wright and Birkholz were booked for controlled substance offenses at the Carlton County Law Enforcement Center.

Wright was ordered to pay bail of $8,500 at his hearing Jan. 15, 2016, where he also asked for and received a public defender.

The wheels of justice take time. After an omnibus hearing Feb. 3, 2016 and another hearing later that month, there were contested omnibus hearings in March and July that were continued at a later date due to witnesses being unavailable.

Wright was finally sentenced earlier this month, on May 17, to 78 months at the Minnesota Corrections Facility in St. Cloud by Judge Robert E. Macaulay.