Judge Eases Up On Postal Inspector Van Sickle Says He Didn’t Mean To Imply Erdahl Had Lied On Warrant
A federal judge who tossed out evidence in a Spokane drug case has taken the unusual step of clarifying his ruling.
U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle says he didn’t mean to imply that Postal Inspector Mike Erdahl was lying when he applied for a search warrant to open a parcel.
On Feb. 23, the judge issued a written ruling saying that prosecutors couldn’t use evidence against Jerrell Logwood and his brother, Jamie Logwood, because of problems with the search warrant.
They were arrested on federal drug charges after the postal inspector intercepted a parcel sent last August to West Garland.
Charges against the Logwoods were dismissed just before they were set to stand trial earlier this month.
In a written affidavit for the search warrant needed to open the parcel, Erdahl said a “white powdery substance, consistent with the appearance of cocaine, is leaking from the package.”
In the parcel, investigators found a shoe box containing a plush green toy frog. Inside the stuffed animal, agents found 138 grams of rock-like cocaine base.
The judge said in his initial ruling that there was “no reason to believe that any white powder actually escaped from the parcel” containing the crack cocaine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Skibbie, who asked the judge to reconsider and clarify his ruling, said the postal inspector’s use of the term “leaking” was reckless and inappropriate.
The judge agreed, saying “use of the word was unfortunate” and gave an inaccurate impression.
It suggested the postal inspector had seen powder coming from inside the parcel, when in fact he merely observed a trace amount on the outside.
“Second, lest there be any misunderstanding, the court’s order should not be read to suggest that Inspector Erdahl deliberately attempted to mislead the judge who issued the search warrant.” The judge said the affidavit for the warrant “reflected careful research and preparation. There “is no reason to believe that Inspector Erdahl was less that truthful,” the judge said.