Two men charged after police find them unconscious in cemetery

Published 9:12 am Friday, January 2, 2015

Two Carter County men are facing charges after police responded to a report of two people found unresponsive in a local cemetery; officers say they found drugs in the vehicle the men were in.
Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department arrested Jordan Persinger, 19, of 120 Wilshire Drive, Elizabethton, and charged him with public intoxication and possession of drug paraphernalia.
His companion, 22-year-old James Hardin, of 160 Heather Lane, Johnson City, was issued a criminal summons by police charging him with first offense driving under the influence, simple possession of Schedule IV drugs, simple possession of Schedule VI drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police responded to Happy Valley Memorial park shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday after a 911 caller reported he had found two men unresponsive in a vehicle on the cemetery grounds and had observed drugs inside the vehicle. When officers arrived, they found a silver GMC Yukon parked in the cemetery with two men slumped over and unresponsive inside – one was in the driver’s seat and the other was in the rear seat on the passenger side of the vehicle.
While trying to wake the two men, EPD Officer James Sexton said he saw what appeared to be marijuana and several pills lying in plain sight on the center arm rest. Officers were eventually able to wake the two men, but Sexton said both men were “incoherent.”
The man in the rear seat was identified as Persinger.
“Mr. Persinger was unable to answer officer’s questions and thought he was riding in a vehicle that was traffic stopped by officers,” Sexton said. “Persinger though the current date was a day in February.”
Persinger was found in possession of a smoking device which smelled like marijuana, Sexton said.
Officers were able to identify the man in the driver’s seat as Hardin.
“I asked Hardin if he knew where he was or what day it was,” Sexton said. “Hardin told me that he was parked behind ETSU and that it was Dec. 22 and approximately 8:30 a.m.”
Hardin was read his Miranda rights, Sexton said, and told police he didn’t know where the marijuana or pills came from. “While speaking with Hardin, I noticed he was holding a set of digital scales commonly used to weigh marijuana,” Sexton said. “Hardin said they were not his.”
Officers collected a clear jar containing marijuana from the vehicle along with about 150 pills of various kinds – including Diazepam (also known as Valium), Zolpidem (also known as Ambien) and Phentermine, all of which are Schedule IV controlled substances.
Hardin was unsteady on his feet and incoherent, Sexton said, adding he was unable to administer field sobriety tests to Hardin due to his condition. Police transported both Hardin and Persinger to a local hospital to be medically cleared before being taken to jail. Persinger was cleared by medical staff and subsequently transported to the Carter County Detention Center.
Sexton said hospital staff advised him Hardin needed to remain at the hospital for medical observation due to his condition. Since Hardin was remaining at the hospital for treatment, Sexton issued him a criminal summons in lieu of arrest.
Both men are scheduled to appear in Carter County General Sessions Court on Feb. 10.

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