Jury hung on prison smuggling charge

But the Walla Walla County panel did find Steven Hackett guilty of pot possession

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WALLA WALLA — A Superior Court jury this week was unable to decide unanimously whether a Spokane man is guilty of helping leave marijuana for distribution on the grounds of the Washington State Penitentiary in June.

After hearing testimony at the trial that began Monday, the 10-woman, two-man panel met behind closed doors for more than six hours Wednesday deliberating the charge against Steven D. Hackett, but ended up deadlocked.

However, the jury did convict him of a related charge of possession of marijuana by a person not a prisoner.

Hackett faces up to a year in the County Jail when he’s sentenced later. He is not in custody pending his sentencing.

As to the charge of complicity to the delivery of the marijuana while on prison property, which the jury couldn’t decide, Judge Scott Wolfram declared a mistrial.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gabriel Acosta said in an interview he will decide whether to retry that charge after he interviews members of the hung jury to determine their positions and reasonings, which were not disclosed in court.

If Hackett is eventually convicted of the charge, he would face a standard-range prison term of 15-21 months.

A co-defendant, Hackett’s live-in girlfriend Andrea M. Olsen, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree introducing contraband and was sentenced to 45 days on electronic home monitoring.

Officials claim Hackett, 52, was involved in a scheme by Olsen and her inmate son, Jarred T. Many, to distribute the marijuana and chewing tobacco inside the penitentiary.

Hackett and Olsen, 44, were in a vehicle — which was under surveillance — that stopped near a composting facility at the north perimeter of the prison between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. June 2.

After the vehicle left, investigators checked the area and found black plastic bags and 75 balloons, most containing tobacco but some with marijuana.

Hackett and Olsen were arrested the following day after they arrived at the prison to visit Many.

In the vehicle were marijuana and the same types of bags located at the composting facility.

The discovery was the culmination of an investigation that began in April involving monitored phones calls between Olsen and Many, as well as other information investigators received.

Hackett, a disabled general contractor, testified at his trial this week he knew nothing about the plan to introduce contraband. He claimed the marijuana found in the vehicle was his, authorized by a medical marijuana permit.

He also told the jury that the night the contraband drop occurred at the composting site, he and Olsen were just driving around looking at scenery and they stopped in the area so Hackett could relieve himself. Olsen didn’t get out at the time, he said.

Inmate Many currently is incarcerated at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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