Hearing set for tomorrow in "on ice" case, motions addressed

Four men are scheduled for a hearing tomorrow in a San Bernardino drug case that has erupted into a fight over alleged civil rights violations when one of the defendants was reportedly held "on ice."

Defendants Carl Edward Alexander, Toriano Jerome Houston, Maurice Lynell Lockett and Fredrick Edward Williams are set for the hearing in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Deputy Public Defender Sam Knudsen, who represents Alexander, alleges his client was held without legal cause during a July 2 traffic stop in San Bernardino. Police held Alexander while obtaining a warrant for a search, according to court testimony.

The court began hearing a defense motion Monday to reveal the identity of a police informant, according to Deputy District Attorney James Hoffman. Judge Michael Smith agreed there was enough merit in the motion to conduct a closed hearing in his chambers with the informant, court records indicate.

An answer to that motion is expected Wednesday, before a preliminary hearing. At a preliminary hearing, a judge will determine - after listening to witness testimony and reviewing evidence - whether sufficient evidence exists to hold the defendants to answer the charges at trial.

The court is also expected to address a defense motion to suppress evidence before the preliminary hearing, lawyers said.

The four men are charged with possession of cocaine base for sale and possession of marijuana for sale as well as a special allegation that both offenses were committed to benefit a street gang, according to the criminal complaint.

Alexander was premitted to withdraw from a plea bargain in July as allegations surfaced about holding suspects without cause from Sergeant Mike Desrochers about a fellow sergeant, Bradley Lawrence. Police documents refer to practice as being held "on ice."

Those allegations mushroomed at a bail hearing Aug. 1 in Superior Court, where Desrochers and Lawrence gave conflicting accounts of the arrests while testifying under oath.

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