February 10, 1995 in City

Warrant Issued For Cocaine Witness Judge Makes Rare Move When Man Fails To Show Up At Trial

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Police and federal agents allege the 31-year-old defendant is the biggest supplier of crack cocaine ever caught in Spokane.

In a rare move, a federal judge issued an arrest warrant Thursday for a defense witness in a major cocaine trial.

U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle issued the warrant for Brent Nowacki on the fourth day of the trial of Darryl E. Jackson.

Jackson, who police accuse of being a California gang member, is on trial in Spokane for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and conspiracy.

Police and federal agents allege the 31-year-old defendant is the biggest supplier of crack cocaine ever caught in Spokane.

Jackson, who could get 10 years in prison if convicted, claims he was framed.

Federal marshals began looking for Nowacki immediately after the judge took the unusual step of issuing the warrant for the Spokane man.

He can be held in jail without bond until he testifies.

Jackson’s lawyer wants Nowacki on the stand to debunk the testimony of his estranged wife, a key prosecution witness.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the judge would proceed today with closing arguments if marshals don’t find Nowacki.

Attorney Gary Penar requested the material witness warrant, claiming that Nowacki’s testimony was vital for Jackson’s defense.

Brent Nowacki was subpoenaed as a defense witness before the trial began. He sat through an informal interview with Penar and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Skibbie earlier in the week.

But when the defense attorney sought to call Nowacki to the witness stand on Wednesday and again Thursday, he failed to appear.

The jurors weren’t in the courtroom when the judge made the decision to issue the material witness warrant during the trial.

Normally, witnesses appear in court under subpoena. Reluctant witnesses, who may flee, are sometimes held in jail prior to trial.

Penar told the judge that he anticipated that Brent Nowacki would attack the honesty of his estranged wife, Tracy Nowacki, who testified as a prosecution witness.

Tracy Nowacki told the jurors that $170,000 worth of crack found in the freezer compartment of her refrigerator belonged to Jackson.

She wasn’t charged after agreeing to cooperate with police and testify against Jackson, the jury was told.

Jackson testified he never lived in Nowacki’s unit at the Heatherwood Apartments and didn’t know anything about the crack cocaine.

“Do you know why she would accuse you of storing drugs in her refrigerator?” the defense attorney asked Jackson.

“Because she’s protecting somebody else,” Jackson responded.

His cousin, Kenny Conway, also from California, frequently stayed at Nowacki’s apartment in North Spokane, Jackson testified.

Jackson was arrested last October after undercover police set up a deal with Steven Brown to trade him a handgun for crack cocaine. Officers previously made three crack purchases from Brown.

After he was arrested, Brown, 25, of Spokane, told police his girlfriend, Angie Brasch, had gone to get crack cocaine from Jackson at Nowacki’s apartment.


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