A former Bethany police officer should go to trial on charges of stealing prescription drugs from police evidence, an Oklahoma County judge ruled Friday.
Former police Capt. Jack Jencks, 47, is accused of removing dozens of pills from envelopes containing police evidence scheduled to be destroyed by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Special Judge Larry Jones noted Friday in his decision that much of the evidence against Jencks is circumstantial. However, evidence put forth by the state shows Jencks had both intimate knowledge of the evidence-keeping process and ample access to the drugs, the judge said.
Jencks was charged in February with 10 felony counts of larceny of a controlled dangerous substance. An additional count was added Wednesday, during the second day in his preliminary hearing.
Court records show Jencks was the last person to handle the evidence in all 11 cases where pills went missing. He told investigators that he was responsible for submitting evidence to the OSBI lab, for both destruction and testing, and taking it to the police property room.
The state asserts after the drugs were tested by OSBI and returned to the Bethany Police Department, Jencks removed the pills, in one case replacing them with screws to mimic the sound and feel of the drugs, and then marked the envelopes for destruction.
Defense attorney Michael Johnson pointed out during Wednesday’s hearing that aside from the other two officers who had access to the Bethany Police evidence locker, fingerprints from two additional officers were found inside some of the envelopes and at least 25 OSBI agents also had access to the evidence envelopes.
“I find it amazing that officer’s fingerprints are found in bags inside evidence envelopes that are torn open that have nothing to do with the case, and yet aren’t even investigated or talked to,” Johnson said Friday after the judge’s decision.
“But, OSBI pretends to know what they’re doing.”
While answering questions during Wednesday’s hearing, Bethany police officer Nathan Myers, who also had access to the evidence locker, said once the evidence envelopes marked for destruction are sealed it is not possible to tell what the contents are unless the seal is broken and they are opened.
He said they are not opened by OSBI when received for destruction, either.
Jones touched on that lack of thoroughness with evidence in his decision Friday.
“It is somewhat bothersome that just because an envelope is marked for destruction that OSBI finds no need to verify its contents or making further inventory,” the judge said.
“This could have been the perfect crime, or crimes. Removing these pills prior to delivering them to OSBI for destruction ... knowing that they would not be subject to inspection or further inventory would mean that no one would ever know that the pills had ever been removed,” Jones said.
Even though Jones highlighted the shortfalls of evidence procedure for both OSBI and the Bethany Police Department, and also noted all the evidence was circumstantial, he said testimony on Jencks’ medical history, which was done after the court room was cleared for privacy reasons, and Jencks’ familiarity with the handling of and protocol for evidence was enough to send the case to trial.
Jencks was one of the lead detectives in the case of Carina Saunders, the 19-year-old woman whose dismembered body was found inside a duffel bag in 2011. That case has since been turned over to the OSBI.