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Defense questions legality of DeGuara search

SLAYTON -- On Monday in Murray County District Court, public defender Christina Weitzema questioned the legality of a search warrant executed in September that led to a controlled substance charge against Gretchen Marie Scott, 26, of Avoca, also known as Gretchen Marie DeGuara.

According to the deputy on the stand, Scott's marriage to Joshua DeGuara is what is in question.

Scott was charged with fifth-degree controlled substance after an informant come forward to law enforcement and accused her of giving him prescription pills.

The informant, according to a deputy, said Scott had given him methadone pills, and that there was more at their residence in Avoca, specifically mentioning a black case reputed to be filled with drugs.

"'Lots,' is what he said," the deputy stated about the amount of drugs allegedly in the house.

The informant has had some trouble with the law in the past, the deputy said, but has always given accurate information and was not in any trouble when he approached law enforcement about the methadone.

The search warrant, Weitzema stated, was only authorized for law enforcement to seize prescription drugs without authorization of law. According to Scott, all of the medications were prescribed to either Scott or DeGuara. The search warrant was also for daytime hours and had to be executed before 8 p.m. According to the deputy, he arrived at the residence several minutes before 8 p.m. and the search began immediately. The radio log from that day would clarify the exact time he arrived and called in his location, he said.

DeGuara was not home when the search began, the deputy stated, and medications both controlled and uncontrolled were found in various areas of the house, including in unlabeled bottles. More than 1,000 pills were allegedly found at the residence, some in prescription bottles that dated back to 2004. More than 650 of those were methadone.

The complaint states the deputy spoke with two licensed Physicians Assistants (PA), both of whom stated in was highly unlikely a patient would be prescribed methadone and be allowed to possess that much of the controlled substance. They advised that methadone is a highly restricted substance that could be potentially dangerous if a child was able to access the drug.

The drugs, the deputy stated, were not in any kind of locked container or placed out of the reach of a child.

At the time of the search, there were three small children living in the household.

Under questioning, the deputy admitted the amount of pills found was less than the numbers listed on the various prescription bottles would allow for. They were not all prescribed by law, the deputy said, because some were not in prescription containers.

"But the pills were found in the home she shares with her husband?" Weitzema asked.

"Correct," the deputy answered.

"And they are married, correct?" she asked.

"I have reason to believe otherwise," the deputy replied, but did not elaborate.

Weitzema has 10 days in which to file briefs on the motions, and Murray County Attorney Paul Malone has an additional 10 days to respond. The judge will then make a decision on the motions.

Scott also pleaded not guilty Monday morning to a misdemeanor level theft charge, in which she and DeGuara are both accused of stealing a 20-pound propane bottle from a neighbor's home and hooking it up to their own house.

DeGuara, 31, is also currently facing two counts of receiving stolen property, which stem from equipment stolen from the Avoca Fire Department, and one count each of disorderly conduct and domestic assault. He is currently on probation in Murray County for theft of a cell phone case and for driving an uninsured vehicle, and in Nobles County for issuance of a dishonored check. Scott is on probation for aggravated forgery in Nobles County.