“False confessions lead to wrongful convictions”. That was what the defense told the judge he should guard against as the bench trial began for Jon Worthman in Scotts Bluff County District Court Tuesday.
The former public defender is charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute following his arrest this past January.
Court documents say that Worthman told investigators after his arrest he thought he’d be purchasing at least two eight-balls of cocaine, admitted to receiving cocaine in the past in exchange for legal services, as well as using the drug himself.
Defense Attorney Maren Chaloupka said in opening arguments Worthman would have pleaded to a possession charge, but the State would not be able to corroborate the basis for their case. She said texts in the first half of 2019 where Worthman asked for payment in cocaine for himself, and sometimes others, including prosecutors or parole officers in other cases, were ‘crazy talk’ of an addict who knew the legal system and used that knowledge to obtain free cocaine.
Chaloupka also said it was clear that Worthman personally used a lot of the drug in a short time-frame, and the State would not be able to independently support a claim by the cooperating individual that they personally saw Worthman hand an envelope containing illicit material to a prosecutor at a local golf course.
She said eventually, the drug dealer realized Worthman was lying in an effort to get more drugs, and after exhausting other efforts to avoid the law made the decision to cooperate with law enforcement.
The trial before Judge Richard Birch is anticipated to wrap up on Wednesday.