Flushing Marijuana Down the Drain

Less than five minutes after Sgt. Stogsdill returned to the stand, Phil Weidner accused him of lying when he told the Bellingham Herald he had three suspects in the Investor murders. Stogsdill admitted that what he told the reporter “wasn’t accurate,” because at that time he had only one suspect. John Peel. The defense attorney also harped on the trooper’s handling of Larry Demmert’s drug use — and got Stogsdill to admit that troopers helped Demmert flush marijuana down the toilet prior to his grand jury testimony.


By the time court had recessed for the day, Weidner and Henry were headed for another showdown. The issue again concerned drugs — but this time it wasn’t Larry Demmert who was at the center of the controversy. This time, allegations of drug dealing by Mark Coulthurst were the cause of it all.

The trouble began when Weidner wondered aloud if perhaps Demmert’s willingness to implicate John Peel had to do with his own nervousness about “furnishing drugs to a minor,” the minor in question being Larry’s underage girlfriend. Maybe this had caused him to lie to police as to his whereabouts on the night of the murders, Weidner suggested. And that “put him in a pretty hard place” with the authorities right at a time when they were coming down on him about John Peel. Stogsdill was reluctant to agree with the defense spin but, as usual, Weidner kept at him.

And it wasn’t marijuana he had in mind.

He was dealing kilos of cocaine…

Phillip Weidner

“Have you ever had people tell police things before in order to please them, because they may be concerned about the situation they’re in?” Weidner asked. “You’re aware of that, aren’t you?”

“Well, I’m aware that things like that can happen,” Stogsdill replied. “I don’t know that I’m aware of any particular instance where it occurred to me.”

Weidner immediately seized the opportunity to broaden his inquiry. “Well,” he craftily suggested, ”you’ve had informants in this case tell you that Mark Coulthurst died because…”

“Objection, your Honor,” Mary Anne Henry interjected. “Beyond the scope.” 

“…he was dealing kilos of cocaine.”

Excerpts from the unpublished original manuscript, “Sailor Take Warning,” by Leland E. Hale. That manuscript, started in 1992 and based on court records from the Alaska State Archive, served as the basis for “What Happened in Craig.”

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2020). All rights reserved.


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