More than six years after it began, a controversial drug case that found its way to the Manitoba Court of Appeal has ultimately come to an end in Brandon provincial court.
"I’m just happy to get it done and over with," Tera Leigh Frieburg told Judge John Combs in Brandon provincial court on Thursday.
Frieburg was charged with possession of ecstasy for the purpose of trafficking after police raided a Dennis Street home on Aug. 10, 2007, and searched a car parked across the street.
The circumstances were outlined in the later Court of Appeal decision.
Frieburg was seen parking the car across the street in the hours leading up to the search of the home.
A drug-sniffing dog was used to examine the car and it gave a positive reaction. Officers then found 850 ecstasy pills in the trunk.
At trial, a judge ruled that police didn’t have the legal authority to perform the dog search without a warrant, that Frieburg’s rights were violated by the warrantless search of the car and the pills found in the trunk couldn’t be used against her in court as evidence. As a result, she was acquitted.
However, in May 2013, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and ruled police hadn’t done anything legally wrong.
The car was parked in plain view on a public street and police — who had a reasonable suspicion there were drugs inside — were authorized to conduct the sniffer-dog search.
When the dog reacted at the trunk, police were authorized to search it without a warrant, the Court of Appeal ruled.
The matter was then headed for a new trial, but instead came to an end in Brandon provincial court on Thursday when Frieburg pleaded guilty to a single count of simple possession of marijuana — 7.5 grams found in the house and two grams in the car, which had a total street value of about $100.
Frieburg, a 32-year-old single mom who now works as a tow-truck driver in Calgary, received a probationary sentence in the form of a one-year suspended sentence with 10 hours of community service work.
Her lawyer, Patrick Sullivan, said that in exchange for the marijuana plea, as part of a complicated plea bargain, the Crown will drop the charge of possession of ecstasy for the purpose of trafficking against Frieburg that lingers in Court of Queen’s Bench. That puts an end to the case.
Details of how that plea bargain was reached weren’t shared in court.
While Frieburg admitted to having the marijuana, following court she said the ecstasy was never hers.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from Winnipeg Free Press
» Twitter: @IanHitchen