Defendants, including 3 athletes, get $25K bail
by Jason Greenberg
Jul 31, 2013 | 5686 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Defense attorneys Neil Brunt, standing from left, Jimmy Berry, Samir Patel and Assistant District Attorney Stewart Bratcher appear before Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson at Tuesday's bond hearing for four teenagers recently arrested in a drug bust. The four defendants seated behind the attorneys are, from left, Dylan Cade Williams, Dustin Bradley Bush, Brandon Shea Etheridge and Samuel Lawrence Ayers. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Defense attorneys Neil Brunt, standing from left, Jimmy Berry, Samir Patel and Assistant District Attorney Stewart Bratcher appear before Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson at Tuesday's bond hearing for four teenagers recently arrested in a drug bust. The four defendants seated behind the attorneys are, from left, Dylan Cade Williams, Dustin Bradley Bush, Brandon Shea Etheridge and Samuel Lawrence Ayers. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Bail was set at $25,000 Tuesday afternoon by Bartow County Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson for four defendants with various drug charges, including three Cass High School athletes, relating back to a July 23 search of the residence at 49 Benefield Circle, Cartersville.

The four defendants were Brandon Shea Etheridge, 18, of 49 Benefield Circle, Cartersville; Dylan Cade Williams, 18, of 17 Crimson Hill Drive, Rydal; Samuel Lawrence Ayers, 18, of 411 Wilderness Camp Road, White; Dustin Bradley Bush, 18, of 226 Pine St., Atlanta.

Etheridge is a rising senior and three-year starting quarterback at Cass. Williams, a recent Cass graduate, is planning to attend Louisiana State University in the fall on a baseball scholarship. Ayers, also a recent Cass graduate, is planning on attending Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., in the fall on a baseball scholarship.

The four were among seven people arrested by the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force and charged with trafficking ecstasy, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and possession of a firearm during a felony violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act.

A search warrant was executed on July 23 at 49 Benefield Circle after a traffic stop on Interstate 75 resulted in the arrest of Christopher Lee Willingham. Willingham was charged with possession of marijuana and an improper tag display. The subsequent search warrant resulted in the arrest of the four defendants.

A drug task force agent revealed several details during Tuesday’s bond hearing about the execution of that search warrant.

Agents from the drug task force executed the search warrant for the house at approximately 8:16 p.m. Located inside the top bedroom on the left of the residence were the four defendants. The room is believed to be Christopher Willingham’s.

The agent pointed out that the Xbox in the room was on and that the defendants were playing video games. According to the defendants’ statements, they had been there between 15 and 45 minutes before being detained. Also located in that room, in plain view, was a glass smoking device and a metallic grinder containing marijuana.

According to the agent, the subsequent search of the room was then conducted by agents who located approximately 6 to 6 1/2 ounces of ecstasy, or MDMA; a plastic bag containing a green, leafy substance suspected to be marijuana; and a firearm.

There were approximately 25 capsules containing molly, or MDMA, located in the top drawer of a TV stand next to the bed. Also in that drawer was a .380 Ruger pistol, along with marijuana.

Inside a subwoofer by the door to the room was a bag that contained more than 1 ounce of suspected MDMA. In addition, two bags of suspected MDMA were located inside the closet of that room in a shirt pocket.

Also found, in an empty room upstairs on the opposite end of the hallway, was a glass jar containing between 2 and 3 ounces of marijuana. The room was allegedly unused by the residents of the household.

No drugs or large amounts of cash were found on any of the four defendants’ person.

According to the agent, Willingham did not take responsibility, but did claim knowledge of what was in his room. The four defendants admitted to knowledge of the illegal substance to varying degrees. Specifically, Etheridge claimed knowledge of the marijuana and ecstasy. The others claimed knowledge of Willingham’s involvement in narcotics and that they could smell the marijuana once they entered the residence.

None of the four defendants were targets at the time of the search warrant, according to the agent, but Etheridge was present at the time of a controlled purchase during the course of the investigation.