Nevada County drug case ends in plea |

Nevada County drug case ends in plea

A Grass Valley man initially facing several drug and firearms charges has pleaded no contest to maintaining a place for selling a controlled substance — an accusation that’s expected to lead to under 6 months in jail and probation.

Derek Knill, 28, on Friday, Oct. 20, also admitted to an enhancement to his charge: having a firearm while maintaining a home to sell drugs in August 2015.

The plea deal calls for three years’ probation and up to 180 days in jail. Knill can ask the court after two years to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor, attorneys said.

Knill’s next court hearing, when the judge will formally impose the sentence, is scheduled for Dec. 1.

“We wanted to see some charge that related to both the drugs and the gun — having a house where they manufactured drugs,” said Chris Walsh, assistant district attorney.

Stephen Munkelt, Knill’s defense attorney, said some evidence gained from the search warrant included legally purchased syringes. Additionally, some of the suspected drugs authorities said they found weren’t controlled substances.

Knill’s case was one of several that involved Nevada County Sheriff’s Detective Jason Mackey. The detective faced accusations of dishonesty and lack of integrity. An internal investigation into Mackey found no wrongdoing.

The charges against Knill and his codefendant, 23-year-old Autumn Pearson, stemmed from the August 2015 execution of a search warrant.

According to authorities, officers found suspected heroin and methamphetamine, along with a loaded pistol near a sleeping 2-year-old, when they executed a search warrant at a Segsworth Way home.

Pearson pleaded no contest in September 2016 to possession of a controlled substance and child endangerment, both misdemeanors. A judge sentenced her to time served and three years’ probation.

Knill, initially facing seven charges, had two of them dismissed earlier this year. The plea agreement led to his no contest plea to one charge, with prosecutors dismissing the remainder.

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