The most serious charge against David Gomez, 22, of Gardnerville was dismissed Wednesday when a co-defendant in the case said he would rather stay in jail than testify against the suspect.
Justice Richard Glasson, sitting in for Justice Jim EnEarl, ordered Marshall Wright to remain in jail until he is willing to answer questions about his dealings with Gomez, who had been charged with trafficking in a controlled substance.
Wright, 22, invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination even though he'd been advised he didn't qualify for the constitutional protection because he already pleaded guilty to trafficking in a controlled substance.
"The court directs you and orders you to answer the questions," Glasson said.
After Wright refused, Glasson said he would be jailed until he complied.
"It could be years in jail," Glasson said.
"Could be," said Wright.
He refused to testify last week against Gomez and proceedings were delayed until Wright's court-appointed lawyer, Alan Erb, could be present in court.
Wright maintained his silence and declined an opportunity to talk with Erb who attended Wednesday's court hearing.
"Marshall Wright is more afraid of David Gomez than he is of prison," said prosecutor Dina Salvucci after the hearing.
Without Wright's direct testimony, Glasson ruled as hearsay testimony from Douglas County Sheriff's Investigator Brian Johnson about a transaction allegedly involving Gomez and Wright on March 15.
Wright, 22, was arrested March 15 on five felony charges of trafficking and possession of a controlled substance after allegedly selling 3 ounces of methamphetamine to an undercover informant. In a plea agreement, five charges were dropped and he is to be sentenced Tuesday on the remaining charge.
Wright is in Douglas County Jail on $100,000 bail. Gomez also is in Douglas County Jail.
Although Glasson dropped the felony charge, Gomez faces five misdemeanors including possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, making annoying, threatening or obscene telephone calls, harassment or threats and interfering with emergency communications.
When Gomez was arrested April 24, deputies allegedly found marijuana, a smoking pipe and a roach clip. Gomez was accused of making threats against a neighbor and his parents.
Glasson left Gomez's bail at $26,000 cash only pending his next court appearance May 25 on the misdemeanors.
If he bails out, Gomez is forbidden to live with any family members or have contact with the people he is accused of threatening.
He is subject to random search and seizure and must abstain from alcohol and drugs. Gomez would be under the supervision of the alternative sentencing department.
Investigator Johnson testified last week that on March 14 deputies observed Gomez arrive at Wright's residence and leave after a few minutes. They saw Gomez return to his home in Bodie Flats, then back to Wright's.
They arrested Wright at Lampe Park. According to Johnson, Wright said Gomez had paid him $5 to deliver 13.6 grams of methamphetamine.
Johnson testified that Wright said Gomez was the source of the methamphetamine.
At his arraignment April 4 before District Judge Michael Gibbons, Wright said he was finished with drugs.
"I am only 22. I just got married," he said. "This time, I am stupidly scared straight. I'm done. I want to go home and get a job."
Wright faces up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Gibbons said at the arraignment he was surprised that five of six felony charges had been dismissed, but he assumed the agreement was based on Wright's willingness to co-operate with law enforcement.
Two other people have pleaded guilty to charges that tied them to Gomez.
Chante Redfox Martinez, identified by deputies as Gomez's girlfriend, pleaded guilty to making a false criminal report. She received a suspended 180-day jail sentence.
Michael Wright, Marshall's father, pleaded guilty Tuesday in District Court to being an accessory after a felony crime is committed. He is to be sentenced June 28 and faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
He admitted giving Gomez a ride on April 24 knowing that Gomez was wanted by authorities.
"I didn't know the extent of the trouble he was in," Michael Wright said Tuesday. I did know it had to do with drugs."
Gomez was the subject of a six-week search and a $500 reward offered by Secret Witness.
n Contact reporter Sheila Gardner at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 214.