A Phelps County jury deliberated for almost two hours Tuesday before finding Michael F. Lagoda, 47, of Edgar Springs, guilty of illegally possessing Darvocet, a prescription pain killer.
Lagoda had been charged with possession of a controlled substance, a class C felony, which carries a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison.
The one-day trial was presided over by Circuit Judge William Hickle. Sentencing has been set for Oct. 10, 2013. Lagoda remains free on bond.
According to a press release from the Phelps County Prosecutor's Office, Lagoda was stopped by Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Brock Vogt for traffic violations at about 12:30 a.m. Aug. 17, 2010.
Lagoda had been drinking and was placed under arrest. When he was taken into custody, Lagoda insisted that his pickup truck be towed from the site of the traffic stop.
Following standard operating procedures, Vogt conducted an inventory search of the truck before it was towed, and during the search, Vogt found a prescription medication bottle containing 15 Darvocet tablets in the truck's center console, the news release stated.
When confronted with the discovery of the pills, Vogt testified that Lagoda told the officer that the pills belonged to another person who had died at Lagoda's house and that Lagoda had forgotten they were in the truck. Lagoda admitted to Vogt that he knew the pills were a controlled substance.
However, when Lagoda testified during the trial, he denied that he had told Vogt that he knew the pills were in the truck or that he said the person to whom the pills were prescribed had died at his house.
On cross examination by Phelps County Assistant Prosecutor John Garrabrant, Lagoda admitted that he had been drinking on the night of the stop, but that he was not drunk. He also admitted that he had previously pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in Phelps County in 2009, according to the prosecutor's office.
Evidence was presented that the person to whom the pills were prescribed had died in Boone County, more than a month before the pills were found in Lagoda's truck.
In his closing argument, Garrabrant pointed out that the pill bottle was found on top of other miscellaneous items in the truck's console.
Reached for comment, Phelps County Prosecutor John Beger was complimentary of the efforts of both Vogt and Garrabrant.
"Misuse and abuse of controlled substances is an ongoing problem in our community," Beger said. "I would estimate that almost half of the felony drug cases referred to our office involve prescription medications."