State drops felony marijuana charges against Appleton man
Rockland — The state has dropped felony charges against an Appleton pot grower in a plea agreement between the defendant and the Attorney General's Office.
Christian "Will" Neils, 36, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana Nov. 14 in Knox County Superior Court before Justice Jeffrey Hjelm.
Neils was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue and defended by attorney Leonard Sharon.
The plea agreement consisted of dismissing an aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs, marijuana, and amending an unlawful possession of marijuana charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.
A felony of criminal forfeiture of property, an Eastfield 12-gauge shotgun, was also not contested.
Neils was fined $750 for the misdemeanor.
Neils said after the trial that he accepted the deal at the advice of his defense lawyer.
"I saw 12 good people on the jury, but I had no faith that the system would treat me fairly," he said, explaining why he decided to take the plea.
Neils originally had contended that former Maine Drug Enforcement Special Agent Kirk Guerrette, while conducting a search warrant search for growing marijuana on the defendant's property, provided evidence that was tainted because the agent himself was on medical prescriptions that might have affected his judgment.
Guerrette performed his work on the Neils case Sept. 21, 2010, when he received information from Detective Justin Twitchell. Guerrette and Twitchell went into the woods behind the defendant's residence and found several dozen marijuana plants and a greenhouse behind the home.
Guerrette said he also saw a path between the house and the site where he found the plants.
Neils said Nov. 14 that when law enforcement officers entered his house that day, there were papers on the table.
"Those papers were missing," he said.
Hjelm in his June 15 ruling said that Neils did not make a "substantial preliminary showing" for a hearing to support his claim.
"It is clear that I'm not a felon," Neils said. "I still feel I was treated like one."
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.