She Didn’t Know They Were Marijuana Seeds
Alberta Kelley Says They Came From Stranger In Connellsville
CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. — Alberta Kelley tried to tell police that she was just out for a walk when a bearded stranger wearing a toboggan hat gave her some seeds, and she had no idea that they would grow marijuana plants.The 67-year-old Connellsville grandmother was charged anyway with possession and manufacture of a controlled substance, but a Fayette County jury found her not guilty this week.”He said they was flower seeds. Some guy just gave them to me, and I just planted them,” Kelley told Channel 4 Action News reporter Ashlie Hardway. “Around here, I don’t know any of the neighbors.”Kelley told Hardway that when she got home with the seeds that the man had given her, she tossed them in her garden on South Cottage Avenue and didn’t think anything of it — until the police showed up months later.”I was waiting to see what kind of flowers they grew, because flowers are pretty. We grow some in the front and some over there,” Kelley said. “I never saw marijuana plants grow in my entire life, and I never been around marijuana, so I wouldn’t know the difference. To me, weeds are weeds.”Police Chief James Capitos said the charges were filed in January 2011, after they got an anonymous tip and saw seven 4-foot-tall plants of suspected marijuana growing near the tomatoes in Kelley’s back yard.”They had been very, very well-cultivated. They weren’t small,” Capitos said. “They weren’t huge like cornstalks, but they were fairly nice marijuana plants.”The plants were sent to a state police crime lab and positively identified as marijuana, according to the complaint.”I said I took them and threw them like that and let them grow their selves. I didn’t know what they were. I still don’t know what they were,” Kelley said.”In a situation like that, we don’t have much of a choice but to file the charges,” Capitos said. “You don’t decide whether or not you’re going to charge somebody based on their age or what they look like. You’re going to file based on whether or not you have probable cause to make the arrest.”Kelley, who has no criminal record, said she’s glad the case is over. The identity of the man who gave her the seeds remains unknown.”I learned not to trust anybody ever again,” she said.