by Ray Downs
A Missouri communications professor who broke the first rule of modern-day communications -- don't joke on Facebook about killing people -- got busted for growing marijuana. But the loose-lipped, green-thumbed prof got a break when a judge quashed the search warrant that led to the discovery of the homegrown operation.
The story started in August of last year when Matthew Rouch, who teaches at Northwest Missouri State, decided he'd do a little comedy. According to the Associated Press, Rouch responded to a colleague's post that he's always optimistic at the beginning of the semester, but "By October, I'll be wanting to get up to the top of the bell tower with a high powered rifle with a good scope, and probably a gatling gun as well."
The remark led to a search warrant one week later to find any firearms that could be used for a Charles Whitman-like massacre. But the only weapon found in Rouch's home was a pellet gun.
Police did, however, find a grow operation and more than 35 grams of processed marijuana -- a felony in Missouri.
Rouch ended up being arrested for felony production of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. But he recently filed a motion to quash the search warrant and suppress the evidence. And earlier this week, his wish was granted by Judge Robert Prokes, who apparently has a deep understanding of comedy. Here's how Nodaway County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rice -- who isn't happy -- breaks it down to radio station KMA:
"The judge's opined opinion was that the defendant was clearly joking, therefore, the information we had about the comments he made and the judge's opinion being joking was insufficient to establish probable cause that a crime was committed and therefore we did not have the necessary legal cause to then have a search warrant to go search his house. So what he is saying is we shouldn't have gotten a search warrant in the first place that we were awarded from Judge Glen Dietrich.
And therefore because that wasn't a legally appropriate search warrant in Judge Prokes's mind, therefore the search was unconstitutional and anything collected from that search warrant is inadmissible."
Rice plans to appeal.
"Honestly my reaction to the judge's decision is I'm mad as hell," he says.
Rouch, meanwhile, was removed from his position after the arrest and was replaced earlier this year, reports the Northwest Missourian.
According to RateMyProfessor.com, he was a popular teacher with a 4 out of 5 rating. But of course, the latest "review" claims Rouch "seemed more interested in botany."
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