BY LEANN DILBECK –
The latest defense legal maneuvering by alleged drug trafficker James “Tinker” Combs has provoked a response from Polk County Sheriff Mike Godfrey who was directly involved in the bust that eliminated what has been described as a “multi-county drug hub.”
Godrey said, “It’s important to me for the people of Polk County to know that we don’t just randomly go into other counties making busts. We were requested by their Oklahoma District Attorney Mark Matloff to assist with the operations that day.”
Combs’ legal defense team filed a motion in the case September 13 to exclude videotapes of the search as well as to exclude evidence obtained by then Polk County Deputy Eddie Price, arguing that “Deputy Price was not authorized under Oklahoma law as an Oklahoma law enforcement officer. McCurtain County, Oklahoma has no formal written reciprocity agreement with Polk County, Arkansas.”
While Godfrey confirms there was no formal written agreement, Polk County’s involvement had been requested due to the size of the bust and the experience of the local 18th West Judicial Drug Task Force.
Combs’ operation was allegedly responsible for much of the meth traffic within Polk County and Godfrey expressed his gratitude for Matloff’s collaborative attitude with neighboring counties.
Also on September 13, Combs waived his right to a jury trial in favor of a bench trial. Matloff said it was no doubt strategic on his part, saying that traditionally judges are not as harsh in the sentencing phase. With a conviction, at minimum, the 75-year old defendant faces 15 to 20 years in prison.
Matloff remains confident the state will present a case that will bring forth a conviction but with current cases on the docket and upcoming holidays, he doesn’t expect the case to be heard until early 2014.