A Penticton man convicted for drug dealing had his appeal for a new trial soundly rejected.
Elkena Knauff was found guilty in 2022 of three counts of drug trafficking and sentenced to spend a total of 30 months in jail, less the 116 days of time served, for the 2017 incident.
Knauff quickly launched an appeal, claiming that the judge in his trial had erred in deeming his testimony ‘not credible’ because he couldn’t explain the actions of the other people involved.
“‘However, reading the judge’s reasons as a whole and in the context of the record, I see no error in his credibility finding that Mr. Knauff’s evidence was ‘utterly implausible, irrational’ and his rejection of that evidence as incredible and ‘made up,’” reads the appeal court’s decision.
In 2017, Penticton police officers spotted a pair of known drug users acting suspiciously in the Walmart parking lot and followed them when they approached a vehicle parked in an out-of-the-way spot.
The officers rolled up as the two users went to either side of the vehicle, speaking with them, Knauff and his co-accused Cheryl Aeichele, before they pulled back to let them leave. As Aechelie reversed the vehicle, one officer spotted a baggie on the ground where the passenger window had been.
Knauff and Aeichele were arrested and the vehicle searched, and the officers found methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl, together with cash, walkie-talkies and numerous items commonly associated with drug trafficking. The drugs and drug-related items were found in the driver’s doorjamb, a purse from the center console area, and a small safe disguised as a dictionary underneath the centre console armrest.
While searching Knauff, an officer also found $515 in cash and a cell phone inside a wallet, and four individual bags of powder cocaine inside a larger bag in his front pant pocket.
In court Knauff claimed that the bag of drugs had been dropped in his lap by the man who had come up to the vehicle, and that he had no idea that the baggie had drugs in it before he stuffed it into his pocket.
The judge at the time had found Knauff’s claims for what happened less than believable.
“…about the last thing I think anybody would do is throw the cocaine into the lap of a total stranger, who would presumably, if you don’t know that person, open up the door, go running out and saying, ‘This idiot just threw this in my lap.’ Who would do that? Again, a fanciful implausible story, one that has no relationship to normal human existence,” the judge said.
The appeal justices noted in their decision that while the judge hadn’t phrased his reasons regarding Knauff’s credibility with the best clarity or accuracy, when taken in the full context of the rest of the evidence and the rest of the judge’s reasons for his decision that no error had been made.
Based on the date that Knauff was sentenced, he still has a year left to spend in jail over his charges.
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