2018-01-11 / Front Page

Inmates caught swapping notes

Facing life in prison
By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff


ERIN GRANT, who is charged in the heroin overdose death of a Suttons Bay man, talks with defense attorney Tony Moses of Ithaca. ERIN GRANT, who is charged in the heroin overdose death of a Suttons Bay man, talks with defense attorney Tony Moses of Ithaca. It didn’t take long in jail for a man and woman charged with selling heroin to a Suttons Bay man who overdosed and died to get into more trouble.

A preliminary examination scheduled for Tuesday was adjourned by Leelanau County Probate Judge Larry Nelson to give defense attorneys time to consider the content of letters that their clients had allegedly been writing to each other while incarcerated in the Leelanau County jail.

Erin S. Grant, 20, and Preston Weaver, 21, both of Benzonia, are each charged with delivery of a controlled substance causing death. They face sentences of up to life in prison if convicted, and are being held on bonds of $100,000.

According to statements made Tuesday in District Court by Leelanau County prosecutor Joseph T. Hubbell, Grant and Weaver would write letters to each other that they left in a book in the jail law library for the other to read.


PRESTON WEAVER, shown in court Tuesday, is accused of selling heroin to a Suttons Bay resident who later died. PRESTON WEAVER, shown in court Tuesday, is accused of selling heroin to a Suttons Bay resident who later died. “They would go to the law library and put a letter in the book, and the other person would go in and write a letter back...,” explained Hubbell. “You can’t help people from being foolish.”

Jail personnel learned of the exchanges but allowed them to continue while they gathered evidence.

Defense attorney Jesse Williams, who is representing Weaver, questioned whether deputies allowed the exchanges to entrap the defendants. Hubbell countered, “They were not allowing it to happen in hopes to facilitate the violations.”

The letters played into Nelson’s denial of a request to reduce bail. Assistant county prosecutor Tristan Chamberlain said that the letters’ content laid out a scheme based on reducing bail to $1,000. “That way we can put up our parents’ vehicles, so that way we can just get out of here...,” Chamberlain said the letters stated. “Their intention is to flee the jurisdiction. I don’t think we will see them again if they get out.”

Nelson asked Grant if she knew that she had been ordered not to communicate with Weaver. She answered with a barely audible “Yes,” and nodded her head up and down once.

Weaver was represented by attorney Williams of Benzonia, who joined Grant’s attorney Tony Moses of Ithaca in requesting the adjournment. Williams said he had that morning been presented with “close to a ream” of paperwork, some of which consisted of copies of the letters written back and forth between Weaver and Grant.

“(Weaver) is a young man who hopefully will get this resolved, and it won’t interfere with a substantial portion of his life,” Williams said.

Grant and Weaver were arrested after an investigation determined that they had sold heroin to 31-year-old Kevin D. Yannett of Suttons Bay, who died of an overdose on Nov. 22. They were taken into custody at a home on Ki-Dah-Keh Road in Peshawbestown.

Yannett is believed to be the first person from Leelanau County to die from a heroin overdose.

Weaver, who is from Wisconsin, has had no serious brushes with the law until his arrest in Leelanau County, Hubbell said in court. He has been convicted of drunk driving as an adult, and his past includes a juvenile history in West Allis, which is near Milwaukee.

“With all these cases where someone overdoses, of course it’s sad,” said Williams, speaking after the adjournment. “These are two kids that the law can allow a resolution such that it does not ruin the rest of their lives. We can’t prosecute drug addition out of society. The war on drugs has failed. We as a society have to come up with a different way to address these issues.”

Nelson overruled a request by Williams to prevent members of the press from being present and taking photographs during the preliminary exam. Williams said a request from the Leelanau Enterprise to bring a camera into the courtroom was made with less than three days notice.

Williams also argued that having the media cover the hearing would create a “security risk” for his client.

Ruled Nelson, “I consider the courtroom to be open to the public, including the press ... I believe in an open courtroom.”

The preliminary exam was adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23.

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Bad decisions can have

Bad decisions can have serious consequences. A life was taken as the result of the actions of these two and now it is time for them to pay for their actions.