German citizen convicted of one charge
(Heiko) Forster, 32, was found guilty of felony possession of cocaine base and not guilty of possession of a hypodermic needle, said Humboldt County Deputy Public Defender Jonathan McCrone.
However, the jury was hung with regard to possession of heroin for sale and possession of a controlled substance (heroin), McCrone said — nine jurors were in favor of finding Forster guilty of the two counts, while three were not.
“In talking to the jury (after court proceedings Monday), they had difficulty with the fact that there were five other people in the apartment (where Forster was arrested), all seeming to be equally likely to be in possession of (the heroin and syringes),” McCrone said, “and they didn’t feel they had enough evidence to connect (the heroin and syringes) to Mr. Forster.
“According to the jury, they found Mr. Forster guilty of possession of cocaine base because (law enforcement) found a pipe used for smoking cocaine in his backpack.”
McCrone said it is “up to an immigration judge” to decide whether Forster will be deported back to Germany because of his felony conviction.
“He’s eligible for Proposition 36 (a drug rehabilitation program), but they are telling us that any felony can get him deported,” McCrone said. “I can’t tell you for sure, but that’s what we’re trying to avoid — he’s got three children.”
Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Arnie Klein, who prosecuted the case, said he doesn’t believe Forster would be eligible for Proposition 36 because he has at least two prior drug convictions — one in 1999 and another in 2000.
“I can’t answer for the deportation laws in 1999 and 2000, but they became more stringent after Sept. 11,” Klein said. “My fervent wish is that (Forster is) deported.
“We have enough drug dealers on the streets of Eureka without him adding to the numbers.” (read the rest)