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Passengers in vehicle charged with trafficking ecstasy

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Henry County Police were continuing their search, Thursday, for the driver of a car in which 300 ecstasy pills were allegedly found during a traffic stop. Two passengers in the vehicle were arrested on drug charges. The driver, however, escaped, police said.

Marquise Antwanne Scott, 23, of Waycross, Ga., and Akeem Kwuame Wallace, 20, of Offerman, Ga., are being held on a superior court-only bond in the Henry County Jail. They appeared Thursday in Henry County Magistrate Court, represented by the Public Defender's Office, for a preliminary hearing in their case.

Both are charged with trafficking ecstasy. Scott is also charged with possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

During the hearing, Henry County Police Officer Steve Torbush said the suspects' vehicle was pulled over in a traffic stop early Thursday morning, at the 211 mile marker southbound, on Interstate 75.

"The traffic stop was initially for speeding," Torbush explained. "When I stopped the vehicle, the driver ... jumped out of the car and took off on foot, into the wooded area along the interstate," he said.

"Once I came back around to the passenger side of the vehicle, after trying to get the driver to stop, the vehicle reeked of marijuana," the officer testified. "There was the odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle."

Torbush said he found two small bags of marijuana, near Scott's feet. Scott, the officer said, was in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, a 2011 white Dodge Caliber four-door hatchback, and Wallace in the rear passenger seat, according to Torbush.

He said more than three ounces of ecstasy was found in the vehicle, near where Scott was sitting.

"There was a bag of approximately 300 ecstasy pills on the floorboard, directly beside the front passenger seat," Torbush said.

He added that after he detained Scott and Wallace, and was placing them in handcuffs, police noticed a bag that contained ecstasy pills.

Torbush told the suspects' attorney, Gerald Privin with the Henry County Public Defender's Office, that Scott confessed to possessing the marijuana. Both Scott and Wallace denied any knowledge of the ecstasy, the officer said in court.

The only identification for the driver, which was reportedly given to police, was the first name "Ben." Torbush told Magistrate Judge Robert Godwin that Scott's aunt had put Scott in touch with Ben, and that Scott had given Ben $40 to drive him from Decatur to Waycross.

The officer described Ben, based on video footage, which was captured by a camera in Torbush's patrol vehicle, as Ben ran from the scene. Torbush said Ben is a black male, approximately 35-40 years old.

"He was wearing what appeared to be dark gray, or light black, denim jeans, and a burnt orange or brown T-shirt, with a white or gray thermal shirt underneath it," Torbush said.

No further identification for the driver was found at the scene, according to the officer. He said the vehicle which was stopped, had been rented in a woman's name from an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in Waycross.

Torbush testified he did not recall the woman's name, but said she had not answered phone calls by police who attempted to reach her.

Just before the conclusion of the hearing, defense attorney Gerald Privin attempted to have the trafficking charge against Wallace dismissed.

"Based on the officer's testimony, we have Mr. Wallace more in a position of being merely present, than Mr. Scott," he said.

Godwin disagreed, and bound both men's charges over to Superior Court.