A street-wise 10-year-old Spokane girl admitted in court Monday that she had sold crack cocaine from her front porch to make spending money the day before school started.
But the fifth-grader said her mother didn’t know she was selling drugs. She was called as the first defense witness when her mother, Kathryn Ann Hall, 38, went on trial Monday on drug charges.
“Did your mother ever say, ‘I want you to sell drugs?”’ Assistant Public Defender John Whaley asked the wiggling girl in the witness chair.
“No,” the child responded firmly, looking straight ahead at her mother who had been led into court in handcuffs.
The girl smiled and seemed almost to enjoy the moment of importance in the witness chair.
She said half her friends are exposed to drugs and that makes her fluent in the language of dope deals that she regularly sees.
The child smiled when she said her mother often works as a prostitute on East Sprague.
“How many times did you see $20 rocks of crack?” Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso asked.
“A lot of times,” she responded.
She later said she was given the crack, without her mother’s knowledge, by another woman who briefly had stayed at her east Spokane home.
“Why were you selling crack cocaine?” the prosecutor asked the girl.
“Because I wanted money,” she replied.
Her mother is the first person in Spokane charged with involving a minor in drug transactions, Grasso said.
She also is charged with possession of crack.
Hall, who is a heroin addict, was working as a prostitute on nearby East Sprague when police bought $40 worth of crack from the child, witnesses testified.
Officers who bought the drugs later searched the house and took into safekeeping the girl’s 2-year-old brother sleeping within arm’s reach of another pile of crack, witnesses testified.
Hall is expected to testify in her own defense today before the nonjury case is submitted to Superior Court Judge Harold Clarke.
At the end of the prosecution’s case, the judge said he was a “hair’s breadth away” from dismissing the charge of involving a minor in drug sales for lack of evidence.
The defense attorney argued that prosecution witnesses failed to tie the drug sales to Hall.
The case unfolded Aug. 31 last year when undercover police, driving a U-Haul van, went to the East Central neighborhood to buy crack.
As they drove by 1808 E. Fourth, officers in the truck saw the curtains part before a young girl came out of the house, detectives testified.
“I asked her if she had any ‘yeah,’ which is a slang term for crack cocaine,” said Detective David McCabe.
Within seconds, McCabe said, the 10-year-old girl returned from the home “with two 20s” - a pair of crack rocks that sell for $20 apiece, testified Detective John Willard.
After the purchase, a team of officers piled out of the back of the U-Haul and grabbed the 10-year-old.
They found her brother sleeping on the couch when they entered the home before a search warrant was obtained.
Hall returned as officers were preparing to re-enter the home with a search warrant to seize more crack found on the sofa and on a bedroom dresser.
Both children were turned over to Child Protective Service caseworkers, but now live elsewhere with a family friend.
The 10-year-old girl faces a felony charge in Juvenile Court of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine.
If convicted, she could serve eight to 12 weeks in custody.
She was represented by her courtappointed defense attorney, Priscilla Vaagen, when the girl was called to testify for her mother’s defense.
The girl waived her constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination and admitted under oath that she sold crack, suggesting it occurred more than once.