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Indictment decision still rests with grand jury

Associated Press

OREGON CITY, Ore. -- Prosecutors have filed felony marijuana possession charges against Portland Trail Blazers guard Damon Stoudamire and his father while a grand jury considers whether to indict them.

There have been no arrests in the case but two "district attorney's information" notices were filed Thursday in Clackamas County Circuit Court, alleging that Damon Stoudamire, 28, and his father, Willie Stoudamire, 52, both "did unlawfully and knowingly possess marijuana."

"Ultimately, the grand jury will have to make the decision on an indictment," said Greg Horner, chief deputy district attorney for Clackamas County.

Stoudamire and his father appeared in court briefly Thursday for an arraignment but Judge John Lowe rescheduled the hearing for Tuesday to give defense attorneys and prosecutors time to review an Oregon Court of Appeals ruling just handed down in a similar case.

In the similar but unrelated case, the court ruled that a warrantless search of a house with an open door was illegal.

In the Stoudamire case, police were responding to a burglar alarm Feb. 23 at Stoudamire's home in Lake Oswego, a wealthy suburb south of Portland, when they found a door ajar and called for backup. Two officers entered the house and found no one inside, but discovered about a pound of marijuana.

Stoudamire's lawyers noted that no search warrant had been issued for his house.

"That's an important enough matter to be considered very carefully," said Stephen Houze, a lawyer for Damon Stoudamire.

Horner called the appeals court ruling in the unrelated case "a bizarre coincidence" but prosecutors also consider it an important factor in determining how to proceed.

"It's still pending before the grand jury but we have some decisions to make," Horner said.

The Stoudamires did not speak to reporters and the Portland Trail Blazers referred all questions to Houze.

The "district attorney's information" notice to Damon Stoudamire alleging marijuana possession did not list an amount while the notice to his father listed "150 or more grams of marijuana."

The marijuana found at Stoudamire's home was confiscated but police did not tell Stoudamire about the incident until about two weeks later.

On April 12, Lake Oswego police forwarded their report to the district attorney's office, which sent it to the grand jury to decide whether the evidence warranted charges that could range from felony possession to a simple misdemeanor.

Friends say Stoudamire does not use drugs and that more than a dozen family members and friends have access to the house.

Stoudamire was a basketball star in Portland at Wilson High School long before he was named NBA rookie of the year with Toronto in 1996 after averaging 19 points a game. He was traded from the Raptors to Portland in the middle of his third season in 1998.

Stoudamire, who earned $12.4 million this season, was playing well until the drug case became known on April 15. He struggled during the Blazers' first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging five points and missing 17 of his 22 shots.

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