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Mitchell mom accused of helping teens sell drugs

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

In her opening statement at a trial Tuesday at the Davison County Courthouse in Mitchell, a state prosecutor compared a Mitchell woman's alleged crimes to a mother helping her children open a lemonade stand.

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"Instead of selling lemonade, the kids are selling marijuana," said Assistant Attorney General Katie Mallery. "And like the lemonade stand, their mom is helping them."

Charlene Marie Stahl, 43, is accused of involvement in the possession and sale of marijuana.

She was indicted in November for aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute more than 1 ounce but less than one-half pound of marijuana, possession of more than 2 ounces but less than one-half pound of marijuana, and contributing to the abuse, neglect or delinquency of a child. Her trial began Tuesday.

The charges stem from a search conducted Sept. 14 at Stahl's home that uncovered multiple bags of marijuana along with several other drug-related items. The search was conducted by officers with the Mitchell Police Division, state Division of Criminal Investigation and state Highway Patrol.

The targets of the search were Derik Nespor, 19, and a 17-year-old male who both reside at Stahl's home and are her sons. The majority of the drugs and related items were found in the boys' bedrooms on the basement level of the house.

Nespor pleaded guilty April 17 to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of hydrocodone. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 29.

There are apparently no adult charges filed against the 17-year-old.

In Mallery's opening statement, she alleged Stahl both knew about the marijuana in her home and helped her boys sell it.

Mike Fink, of Bridgewater, is defending Stahl. He chose to wait to give his opening statement until later in the trial, deciding to let the state call its witnesses first.

Mitchell Police Investigator Joel Reinesch was the first witness called by the state. Reinesch took numerous photographs during the search of Stahl's house depicting the layout, as well as the various drugs and paraphernalia found by law enforcement.

Also called was state Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Chris Konrad, who personally searched much of Stahl's home.

Both witnesses testified to an overwhelming smell of marijuana they said was present in the basement during the search.

"The odor of marijuana was so strong I was starting to get a headache," Konrad said. "I could not smell anything else."

The trial is scheduled to conclude today.

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