Weatherford Democrat

Local News

December 22, 2013

Prosecutors win appeals decision in drug search case

By CHRISTIN COYNE

A Parker County felony drug case involving the illegal entry of a Weatherford home by Parker County narcotics investigators is headed back to a lower court after Texas’ highest criminal appeals court handed state prosecutors a win last week.

Michael Fred Wehrenberg, 49, who is currently on parole after pleading guilty two years ago to two felony drug charges, is appealing his conviction, arguing that a Parker County judge should not have allowed prosecutors to use evidence obtained after officers made unlawful entry to a house during the August 2010 investigation.

Ruling last week on the issue of how to interpret state law regarding the issue, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals sent Wehrenberg’s appeal back to the Second Court of Appeals.

The Second Court of Appeals will now likely address prosecutors’ argument that the evidence truly was obtained independently of the illegal entry, according to State Attorney Lisa McMinn, who said the justices might consider whether the magistrate who issued the search warrant had knowledge of the prior entry.

Arrest

Michael Fred Wehrenberg, 49, was arrested Aug. 31, 2010, on charges he was preparing to manufacture methamphetamine.

Several hours after receiving information from a confidential informant that people were about to cook methamphetamine at a residence at 501 Center Point Road, which had been under surveillance for a month, narcotics investigators testified they went to the residence around 12:30 a.m.

Law enforcement officers entered the residence without a warrant or permission, handcuffed and removed Wehrenberg and others from the residence and performed a “protective sweep” of the premises, according to court records, which state no one cooking methamphetamine at the time.

Investigators then sought and obtained a search warrant for the residence shortly before 2 a.m.

Relying only on information provided by the informant, who had “personally observed the suspected parties in possession of certain chemicals with intent to manufacture a controlled substance,” the officer seeking the warrant stated that the suspects were planning to use the “shake and bake” method of manufacturing methamphetamine, described as “fast” and used to prevent detection by police.

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