Jury convicts Belpre man in drug cases

A convicted rapist was found guilty by a jury Thursday of two new charges of drug possession and trafficking stemming from heroin and money found at his home last March.

Wesley Duane Lincoln, 32, of 126 Elm St., Belpre, was on parole after serving his 10-year sentence for a 2003 rape of a 12-year-old girl at her home, when local law enforcement agencies began to suspect that he was linked to drug trafficking in the valley.

Lincoln was indicted on a charge of trafficking in heroin and one charge of possession of heroin, both second-degree felonies.

During Lincoln’s three-day trial this week Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Hamilton outlined how the Washington Morgan Noble Major Crimes Task Force worked in conjunction with the Parkersburg Police Department to not only track Lincoln’s movements and possible trafficking activity but also tracked “buy money”

funneled from the Parkersburg department for drug purchases.

Lincoln did not take the stand during his trial.

“Wes Lincoln didn’t have a job on March 7, his intent was to earn money by selling heroin,” said Hamilton in his closing argument.

Hamilton demonstrated over the course of the trial that the task force originally found $1,000 cash and 0.5 grams of heroin in powder form under the hat on a teddy bear near the back door of Lincoln’s home during the execution of a search warrant on March 7.

Then, a day later, Lincoln called his then-girlfriend while in the Washington County Jail directing her to find “keys” hidden in his basement and beneath bricks under the backyard fence.

“But he wasn’t talking about keys like what you have in your pocket like I do,” Hamilton said to the jury Thursday. “Those ‘keys’ were the money and drugs and the only person who knew where ‘X’ marked the spot was Wesley Lincoln.”

Lincoln’s defense attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, said in his closing argument that a question of chain of custody and holding law enforcement to the same laws regular citizens are held to was the basis of Lincoln’s defense.

“I’m not going to insult your intelligence and say Wesley Lincoln isn’t involved in drug activity. Wes Lincoln is probably guilty of something,” he said to the jury. “But the rules mean something…hold the state accountable to do its job.”

Ultimately the jury returned a verdict of guilty on both counts after just more than an hour of deliberation.

Lincoln faces up to eight years for the newest conviction plus a possible addition of two years in prison consecutive to the new sentence to conclude the balance of post-release control for his rape conviction.

His sentencing is scheduled for March 30 at 8:30 a.m. in Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth’s court.

At a glance

¯ Wesley Duane Lincoln, 32, of 126 Elm St., Belpre, was found guilty of one charge of trafficking in heroin and one charge of possession of heroin, both second-degree felonies, Thursday in Judge Randall Burnworth’s court.

¯ Lincoln was on post-release control at the time of his arrest on March 7, 2016 for the drug charges.

¯ Lincoln had previously been convicted in 2003 of the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

¯ Lincoln faces up to eight years in prison for the newest convictions.

¯ He could also spend another two years in prison consecutive to the new sentence to conclude the balance of the previous conviction’s post-release control.

¯ Lincoln’s sentencing is scheduled for March 30 at 8:30 a.m. in Burnworth’s court.

Source: Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Hamilton.

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