Two weeks before his 66th birthday, Gary Wayne Woodson was pulled over by an Albemarle County police officer after exiting the U.S. Route 250 Bypass at Ivy Road. The officer said the car Woodson was driving was a rolling trove of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Officer D. Rickerd testified in court Thursday morning that he initiated the Sept. 5 traffic stop after spotting some erratic driving and finding that that the license plate on the car did not match the vehicle.
Inside the white Hyundai sedan, Rickerd said he found wads of cash and myriad clear plastic baggies scattered across the two front seats. On the center console, Rickerd said, there was a digital scale, a pair of used syringes and a single pill of gabapentin, a prescription medication often used to extend illicit drugs.
All of it was in plain sight, the officer said.
“I said, ‘Can I search the vehicle?’ and he agreed,” Rickerd told the court.
After a brief pat-down, Rickerd said he then noticed a bulge in Woodson’s waistband.
“I said, ‘What’s in your waistband?’ and he wouldn’t answer me.”
Rickerd said he repeated his question and Woodson provided a one-word answer: “Drugs.”
Inside the soft zippered bag Rickerd said he found in Woodson’s waistband, the officer said he found “a golf ball-sized white crystal substance,” which a lab report later analyzed and found to be methamphetamine, according to a report filed in the case.
Woodson, clad in a striped jumpsuit and wearing orange Crocs, did not testify during Thursday’s hearing.
The lifetime local resident has a long criminal record, containing 41 felony convictions and an untallied number of misdemeanors. His most recent convictions are for felony drug possession and several convictions for driving while intoxicated. He also has a pending failure-to-appear charge in Rockingham County, according to a court file.
According to the file, Woodson’s primary occupation is as a $17-per-hour painter.
Woodson’s attorney, public defender Lacey R. Parker, asked Rickerd questions regarding his approach and search of the vehicle Woodson was driving.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
“I don’t believe that I ever broke the plane of the window,” Rickerd told the court.
Charlottesville Judge Andrew Sneathern, sitting on the Albemarle General District Court bench for reasons that Parker said were unknown to her, heard enough after approximately 25 minutes of testimony to move the felony distribution charge forward. Woodson also faces lesser charges of driving without a valid license and improper vehicle registration.
“The burden has been met,” announced Sneathern, indicating that the case has been certified to an upcoming grand jury.
Woodson was being held in Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, but was released from custody as of Friday afternoon, according to jail records.
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