CORUNNA — An Owosso man was acquitted Tuesday by a 35th Circuit Court jury of possession of methamphetamine shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday after four hours of deliberations.
Jay Downey, 35, of Owosso, was on trial for a single count of possession of a controlled substance (second offense). When the verdict was read aloud, several family members in attendance embraced.
The key piece of testimony Wednesday came from Downey’s son Zachary Meyer, who testified that a baggie of meth found in the basement of the home where the arrest took place belonged to the son or the son’s friend, who had smoked meth in the basement several days before it was found by police.
Judge Matthew Stewart advised Zachary Meyer before testifying that he would be waiving his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and also that his testimony could result in criminal charges. Meyer stated he understood, and admitted the meth “belonged to him(self) or a friend.”
Shiawassee County assistant prosecutor Richard McNally called Meyer’s testimony a “last-minute fabrication,” and said his loyalty was “misplaced.”
Defense attorney Doug Corwin, however, told the jury in his closing statement that “we’ve known for months what (Zachary Meyer) would testify.”
The court also heard testimony from Mollie Meyer, Downey’s girlfriend. She testified her son had let Downey into their residence without her knowledge, and upon her finding out, she called police to have Downey arrested for violation of a personal protection order that stemmed from a December 2018 domestic violence incident.
“He acted drunk or like he didn’t realize who I was,” Meyer told McNally.
When police arrived at the residence on North Orchard Street Feb. 8, two Owosso officers found Downey hiding in a closet. The officers said Downey appeared to be under the influence of meth, and transported him to the jail.
While en route to the jail, the officers stated Downey “rambled in a paranoid fashion.” Police later found pipes, a torch and other meth-related paraphernalia, along with a “crystalline substance” in a small plastic baggie. Tests by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab later showed the substance was meth.
Mollie Meyer testified she took insulin to Downey at the jail following his arrest. Downey had been diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic, bipolar and had an anxiety disorder. She added she asked McNally twice to lift the no-contact order.
Downey was charged by prosecutors May 21, and arrested the same day.
He was arraigned on the single felony count Aug. 8 by 66th District Court Judge Ward Clarkson; he pleaded not guilty.
Court records do not indicate the reason for the delay between charging and his arrest. Downey posted a $25,000 cash/surety bond Aug. 26, and has been free on bond.
After the jury’s acquittal, when asked whether charges could be filed against Zachary Meyer for meth possession, McNally said, “That’s a decision that has yet to be made.”
Had Downey been convicted, he could have faced up to four years in prison.