A mistrial was declared in a drug case Thursday after one of the defendants declared his innocence to passing jurors in a stairwell at the Hall of Justice, authorities said.
Superior Court Judge Marilyn Haan found Pepper G. Hamblin, one of two defendants in a meth possession trial, in contempt of court and ordered him to serve three days in the Cowlitz County Jail, according to the Superior Court Clerk's Office. Hamblin, who also has been charged with jury tampering, was immediately taken into custody.
A sheriff's office report said Hamblin, who was not in custody during his trial, said "Hi" to two female jurors as he passed them in a stairwell at the Hall of Justice Thursday morning. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he turned and said, "As God as my witness we are innocent," according to the report.
Both jurors were wearing "juror" pins, the sheriff's office said.
Hamblin, 52, and his co-defendant, Sunshine M. O'Connor, 33, both of Woodland, were on trial for meth possession this week.
Cowlitz Wahkiakum Narcotics Task Force agents said in court documents that they served a search warrant on the pair's Lewis River road home July 20 and found 3.2 grams of meth tucked under a mattress as well as glass smoking pipe.
Hamblin is scheduled to appear in court on May 8 to reschedule the trial.