Trio plead innocent to charges stemming from pot plant in backyard

BENTON CITY -- A woman and two men pleaded innocent Thursday to allegations they had a 5-foot-tall marijuana plant growing in their Benton City backyard.

Fabiola Sanchez, 18, Rafael Cervantes Amezcua, 27, and Jose Cervantes-Cisneros, 66, each are charged in Benton County Superior Court with one count of conspiracy to manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana.

Cervantes Amezcua and Cervantes-Cisneros also have one charge each for being an alien possessing a firearm.

According to court documents, Benton County sheriff's Deputy Shane Benningfield went to 3701 Dusty Lane on Sept. 5 for reports of a marijuana grow and heavy traffic to and from the home.

From the roadway, Benningfield could see a large marijuana plant in the backyard garden, documents said. Corn was planted across the front of the garden, but the marijuana plant allegedly was taller than the corn.

Benningfield, along with Deputy Jeremy Carrigan, then knocked on the home's front door and spoke with all three suspects. The trio lived together in the home, along with Sanchez's uncle, who wasn't there at the time.

Carrigan got a search warrant and later seized the marijuana plant, which was three feet wide and five feet tall and ready to be harvested, court documents said. Deputies also found multiple guns in the home's two bedrooms, including a .22-caliber rifle in a closet which Cervantes Amezcua said would be in his room, documents said.

Sanchez, when interviewed by deputies, allegedly said she knew the plant was in the garden but that it belonged to her uncle who couldn't be located. Sanchez said her uncle sold marijuana from the home, court documents said.

Cervantes Amezcua and Cervantes-Cisneros are illegal aliens, according to documents.

Cervantes Amezcua's trial is set for Oct. 31, while Cervantes-Cisneros and Sanchez are scheduled for trial Nov. 28.

Man faces trial over thefts of computers, TV, chain saw

KENNEWICK -- A 37-year-old Kennewick man is accused of taking a chain saw and computer monitors from three different stores.

Robert Dwayne Long pleaded innocent to third-degree retail theft with extenuating circumstances. His trial is scheduled to start Nov. 14.

Long first caught the attention of authorities Aug. 31 when he went into Sears, took the chain saw and ran from the store without paying for the $200 item, court documents said. The incident reportedly was caught on video and the license plate of the car he was driving was recorded.

Just days later on Sept. 4, Long went into a Walmart store, grabbed a $200 computer monitor and again ran from the store, documents said. That theft also was caught on video, which showed Long driving the same car.

And then on Sept. 5, Long again walked into Walmart and allegedly took another monitor.

The following day he was stopped by Kennewick police who recognized the car and arrested him. It was discovered that the car belongs to his mother.

Officers interviewed Long's mother, who allegedly said her son regularly took her vehicle and had stolen about six items from Walmart and Fred Meyer stores, including TVs and a saw, court documents said. Long denied committing the thefts.

His bail is set at $10,000.

* Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com