May 28, 2022 9:26 pm

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A Swift Verdict For “Fast Eddie”

FLORES.EDWARDCONROE- Late last Friday afternoon, a jury in the 9th District Court of Judge Kelly Case found 31-year-old Edward Flores of Houston guilty of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver.

On the afternoon of March 22, 2012, members of the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office Tactical Team conducted a narcotics investigation at a residence located at 22307 Smith Road in Porter where the homeowner had an active arrest warrant and was believed to be possession of stolen property. Upon arrival they found the suspect dumping clear plastic bags containing methamphetamine into the toilet in an attempt to destroy evidence. They also found three other suspects on location along with marijuana, and assorted drug paraphernalia. Moments later, a fifth person arrived at the residence, which is the last house on a dead-end road. That suspect also had an active warrant for his arrest and was taken into custody.

All suspects on location were detained while a search warrant was obtained to check the residence for additional narcotics. During that search, methamphetamine residue was discovered throughout the master bedroom, and inside a safe were methamphetamine residue and a 9mm handgun that was illegal for the homeowner to possess because of his felony criminal history. A .22 rifle was discovered in the same as the safe.

By then, additional Precinct 4 units were on location, including Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden and members of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. As the investigation continued, a box truck with Fast Eddie’s Moving Company printed on the side turned into the driveway and stopped without continuing after the driver saw all the law enforcement vehicles. The driver, Edward Flores, stepped out of the vehicle. Officers, including Constable Hayden and Captain Mark Seals motioned for Flores to continue moving forward to the house. In plain view of Constable Hayden, Captain Seals and a Precinct 4 Deputy Constable, Flores got back into the vehicle, grabbed a bag and threw it over the cab of the truck. The bag landed on the ground and the deputy immediately retrieved it as Flores was detained. The paper bag contained a plastic bag with approximately 145 grams of methamphetamine inside. Constable Hayden called the house where Flores was making the delivery a “flop house” where criminals gathered to purchase and to abuse illegal drugs.

“Obviously, Edward Flores was attempting to make a delivery,” said Constable Hayden after the trial. “When he saw us, he had nothing to lose by trying to get rid of the evidence, so he threw it.”

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorneys Rob Freyer and Andrew James prosecuted Flores, who chose a jury trial. Multiple witnesses testified, including Detective Steve Mullis and Lieutenant Philip Cash of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Cash heads up the Special Investigations Unit and has conducted hundreds of narcotics investigations, often working with local, state, and federal agencies during his 21-year law enforcement career. He said the amount of methamphetamine Flores was accused of tossing over his truck was enough to cause a large number of people to become addicted.

Lt. Cash was not part of the investigation the day of Flores’ arrest, but testified as an expert witness based on his extensive drug interdiction experience. Defense attorney Jeremy Dishongh tried to discredit Cash, but jurors simply looked confused when he asked Cash if he uses or has used methamphetamine and then maintained the lieutenant’s lack of firsthand experience with the drug prevented his being an expert on the drug.

Dishongh and co-counsel Deandre Gibbs also tried to evoke testimony from Cash and other witnesses that would imply evidence against Flores was not handled or examined properly. Specifically, Dishongh repeatedly raised the issue of not attempting to lift fingerprints from the plastic bag containing methamphetamine that Flores threw over the truck. Pct. 4 Capt. Mark Seals, a witness and part of the investigation, said investigators typically attempt to lift fingerprints when they are attempting to identify a suspect or confirm their presence at a location or their handling of an item. In Flores’ case, Seals said there was no question whether his hands had touched the contraband because he retrieved it from inside the truck and threw it with multiple officers watching.

The defense tried to create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors using not only the idea that the bag of methamphetamine in evidence was never in Flores’ possession, but every other conceivable angle as well, including the possibility that Flores purchased it from the homeowner and was an unhappy customer en route settle the score when he was caught. They even suggested Flores may have simply had the methamphetamine in his possession for personal use when he stopped by the residence and found himself in the middle of an active scene. The one point neither side could argue against was Flores, who was not part of the original investigation, had incredibly bad timing.

“Flores already had a criminal history, but he wasn’t even on our radar until he showed up with thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine while were executing a search warrant for narcotics,” Constable Hayden later said.

The case was prosecuted and defended passionately and there were many objections, though more by the defense than the prosecution. Judge Case, who was sworn into office January 1 after defeating longtime incumbent Fred Edwards, was calm and patient throughout the trial. Case paid close attention and thoughtfully considered objections before responding, appearing to give both sides as much flexibility as possible to get their points across.

In the end, the jury took less than one hour to return a guilty verdict. Judge Case had warned the courtroom in advance against outbursts of any sort by either side, but there were none.

The sentencing phase is scheduled for the afternoon March 1. Flores faces 15 years to life in prison, which will be decided by Judge Case.