Billings woman denies multiple drug charges from I-90 stop

9.2 pounds of marijuana seized in March traffic stop
By: 
Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, October 10, 2019
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A young Billings woman has denied multiple drug charges stemming from 9.2 pounds of marijuana allegedly seized on a traffic stop

Kaitlin Burchfiel, 23, appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court last week and pleaded not guilty to felony counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs with the intent to distribute, criminal production or manufacturing of dangerous drugs, using property subject to forfeiture laws and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde did not seek any bond in the case, as Burchfiel appeared on a summons.

She was placed under standard release conditions that include a 10 p.m. curfew unless working.

THE CASE

On March 28 at 5:40 p.m., Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Skylar Steele was on routine patrol heading eastbound on I-90 when he saw a white van change lanes. The deputy saw that the turn signals remained steadily illuminated instead of flashing. When he ran the license plate, Deputy Steele learned the registered owner of the van did not have a valid driver’s license, according to court documents.

The deputy stopped the van and as he approached it, “he was overwhelmed with the odor of what he believed to be marijuana, based on his training and experience,” according to court documents.

The driver acknowledged that he owned the van and did not have a valid license and was driving only because his passenger, Burchfiel, was tired and needed to rest. The driver said the pair was travelling from Bozeman to Billings and denied having any marijuana in the car. When a K9 team arrived on scene, the driver produced a half-burnt marijuana blunt and told the deputies that is what they were smelling, according to court documents.

Burchfiel allowed a deputy to search her purse, which contained a vape cartridge “possibly filled with THC,” according to court documents. She admitted to using drugs in the past.

The K9 gave a positive indication of illegal drugs on the van and it was seized. The K9 also alerted to the back of a patrol car where Burchfiel was sitting, according to court documents.

When the van was searched, the following was found: a trash bag containing 1,085 grams of marijuana, a bag containing 19 grams of marijuana, another bag containing eight grams of marijuana, bags containing various amount of marijuana, three jars of THC wax, one mini vape pin, six burnt joints, glass smoking pipes, four cell phones and a Go Pro camera, according to court documents.

The total weight of the marijuana was 9.2 pounds.

Property subject to forfeiture inclues a Go Pro, a Canon Rebel camera with two lenses and a Kindle, according to court documents.

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