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Gainesville man acquitted of growing marijuana
Brandon Hughey
Brandon Hughey

The attorney for a Gainesville man acquitted on charges of growing marijuana said it was much ado over bean sprouts and residue.

“There’s a burnt-out piece of residue and a couple of little bean sprouts over there, and they want something out of it,” Senior Public Defender Larry Duttweiler said Thursday in Hall County Superior Court.

Brandon Michael Hughey, 29, of Gainesville has been on trial since Tuesday. He was arrested in April 2013.

Duttweiler said in his closing argument that investigators were grasping at more convictions than what the evidence offered.

“Jason Cain has pleaded guilty ... and it’s not enough. We’ve got to get another guy, this guy over here,” Duttweiler said, pointing to Hughey.

Hughey and Cain, 38, were arrested at 2830 Outer Circle in Hall County after the Gainesville-Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad conducted a drug investigation. Agents said the two had a “gallon bucket with marijuana growing” at the residence and “glass smoking devices with methamphetamine residue.”

Both were indicted on charges of attempting to manufacture marijuana, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a drug object in January, and both had prior drug charges. Cain had been arrested on a charge of manufacturing marijuana in 2009, pleading guilty. Hughey had been charged four times since 2009 with possession of marijuana.

Duttweiler said his client had been implicated by association, and that proving elements of the crime hinged almost entirely on the testimony of witnesses, including Cain, who lacked credibility.

“It was him and Jason Cain. ‘He had no interest! He’s just being a great guy! No deal with him!’” Duttweiler said of the state’s case. “It wouldn’t have cost another dollar, beyond the money I mentioned earlier, to have him sit at this table and stand trial this week for manufacturing marijuana in his home the same way he did before.

“People who either tell you ridiculous lies, or maybe if it’s the truth it would be even wackier — ignore them.”

Assistant District Attorney Yelena Abalmazova said witnesses were impartial, and that the state had proved Hughey committed criminal acts beyond a “common sense” reasonable doubt.

“They have no bias for the state. ... They were not offered any deals, regardless of what the defense has told you,” she said. “Even if you discount the testimony, you have the testimony of credible investigators who came in there and searched the place, did their research, talked to people, talked to them separately, and after they talked to them, they decided who’s really to be charged.”

“It’s not a vague or arbitrary doubt; it’s not a mathematical certainty. I don’t have to prove things to you 200 percent,” she added. “The state would never be able to make a conviction in any case if everything had to be proven 200 percent.”

The jury returned the verdict of not guilty on the three counts after about 90 minutes of deliberation.

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