Monique Trappier, an admitted heroin user for 20 years, wanted to tell the truth. The 41-year-old woman from the coastal city of Georgetown waived her right to self-incrimination. She was a stand-up lady.
Minutes later, she was in handcuffs, charged with trafficking heroin.
In the short trial Wednesday handled by prosecutor Marina Hamilton of the 16th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, testimony showed that Trappier was driving a rental car in February 2015 through York County, with a man named Kalvin Brown in the passenger seat. In the back seat were two jackets. Inside Brown’s jacket was a toothpick bottle. There may have been toothpicks in it, but there were also 17 grams of heroin.
Trappier was driving too close to the rear bumper of another car.
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Deputy Randy Gibson of the York County Sheriff’s Office testified he pulled over Trappier over for following too close. Trappier lied about her name – she later was found guilty of driving without a license in a magistrate trial where she was tried in her absence. She has done this before. In June 2015, she spent 20 days in jail in Georgetown for the same thing of giving a false name. She has other convictions for financial card fraud, and more, court records show.
But Gibson, the deputy, happened to be a K-9 handler. Because the car did not match the driver, and Brown admitted he rented the car, Gibson did not let Trappier and Brown go right then and there.
Brown, the passenger, told Gibson the K-9 dog would alert to drugs. He was right. The dog turned into a laser pointer. The dog pointed right at Brown’s jacket.
Brown told police the drugs were his and he was charged with trafficking heroin and faced 25 years minimum. He wanted a trial and this week he got one.
Brown, 47, waived his right to a jury trial, and rolled the dice that the judge – Visiting Judge Perry Gravely from Easley – would take his side as both trial judge and decider of guilt. Plus, he had somebody who would say the drugs were not his although a year before he had said the heroin was his.
Trappier stepped up to the witness stand, and this time she admitted her name. She was advised by Judge Gravely that under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution in America a person has a right to avoid self-incrimination. She was told she had every right to say nothing and turn around and go home as fast as she could go. She was advised that anything she said would be part of the record.
A pair of drug agents sat in the back row and they did not just listen but they leaned forward to hear better.
Trappier said she wanted to go forward, and she did like an icebreaker through a glacier. The broken pieces of ice fell right on her.
Prosecutors said she testified that the drugs were hers, and not Brown’s. She testified that she paid $1,000 for the drugs despite not having a job that anyone knew about. She testified that she had sold herself at times for drugs, and about her drug use. She testified she mixed the drugs. She said she put the drugs in the wrong jacket.
Her testimony ended.
The trial ended and Gravely the judge found Brown guilty of drug trafficking. The judge had no choice but to sentence Brown to 25 years in prison because state law requires it.
Trappier walked out of the courtroom. The two drug agents walked right behind her. There are two sets of double doors out of the courtoom. Before the second set closed she was charged with trafficking heroin and booked into the county jail two floors below the courtroom.
She faces 25 years in prison if convicted for what she claimed under oath is the truth.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald