University of Pennsylvania Smell Expert Testifies in Drug Possession Trial

University of Pennsylvania Smell Expert Testifies in Drug Possession Trial

It may not be the most glamorous job on earth, but being the director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine certainly smells like money. That’s because for a sizeable fee, David Doty can be hired to testify on behalf of defendants charged with drug crimes.

In fact, Doty did just that in an Alaska case in which two defendants were charged with three drug counts, including manufacturing marijuana, and a charge of money laundering conspiracy. That charge stems from the allegation that they laundered more than $1 million in proceeds from the sale of marijuana.

The Facts

In February 2010, police investigator Kyle Young claimed to have smelled marijuana in the air, information he used to obtain a search warrant for the residence of Trace Rae and Jennifer Anne Thoms. The defense argued that Young’s sense of smell was so inaccurate that a search warrant based on his claim should not have been issued. In a ruling released April 22, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick agreed that the facts of the case contradict the investigator’s claims.

According to Doty, the outbuilding from which Young said marijuana-odors were flowing sat at least 450 feet from the road; the building lacked windows and was solidified by two sturdy, insulated and sealed garage doors. Given those facts, Doty testified it was doubtful anyone could have smelled marijuana emanating from the structure.

In a ruling issued April 22, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick agreed with the defense. He threw out the search warrant Young used to remove the marijuana plants and other items. Unless prosecutors appeal Sedwick’s ruling, the case pending against the pair will be dismissed.

Doty’s expert fee amounted to $20,000.

Contact a Pennsylvania Drug Offense Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania, PA, contact the criminal law attorneys at the Law Office of John E. Kusturiss today.

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