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Hughes gets trial on pending drug charges

ELLSWORTH -- A River Falls city council member accused of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia will take his case to a jury.

Last week Pierce County Judge Joseph Boles scheduled a two-day, 12-person jury trial for Robert J. Hughes, 29, 249 Foster St. The trial will be July 11-12.

Hughes is charged with three misdemeanor counts: Possession of tetrahydrocannabinol; possession of drug paraphernalia; and possession of a controlled substance as a result of an incident last Aug. 4.

Earlier this month, Boles denied a defense motion to suppress evidence allegedly found during the execution of a search warrant.

The warrant authorized the search of the home where Hughes lived then, a townhouse at 1876 Kristy Lane.

According to police reports, on Aug. 4 River Falls Officer Kevin Moore went to the home to deliver a council package for Hughes.

A roommate answered the door, and Moore said he smelled a strong odor of marijuana.

When the officer returned to the townhome later, the same roommate answered the door. Moore asked the roommate if he'd been smoking marijuana.

According to the officer, the man said he hadn't been, but that Hughes and another roommate may have.

The roommate also said he could hear hacking and coughing when Hughes and his roommate had been smoking marijuana, according to the evidence.

Moore was called away on another incident but reported his suspicions to the police sergeant on duty. A search warrant was issued.

A St. Croix County Sheriff's Department dog was brought in to sniff for drugs.

Hughes was not at home, but officers say they found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and prescription pills in his bedroom

Hughes' attorney argued that the officers shouldn't have gone into the bedroom because the warrant didn't list that room as an area to be searched.

But Boles found there was sufficient probable cause to search all the rooms.

"The three people who lived in this residence had separate bedrooms, but they did not have separate living units," wrote Boles. "This was a single residence, a townhome."

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.