A New Jersey judge on Monday could decide the fates of three people who said they were on a rescue mission to help save a teenager from a New York heroin den when they were stopped with a cache of weapons outside of the Holland Tunnel last June.
John Cramsey, Dean Smith and Kimberly Arendt, all of Pennsylvania, have pleaded not guilty to weapons possession charges. They were stopped on their way to help a teen girl who had sent a message to Arendt, her former camp counselor, after a friend died of an overdose in a hotel room. They have pleaded not guilty to weapon possession charges.
Judge Mitzy Galis-Menendez is scheduled to rule Monday after defense lawyers argued to suppress key evidence in the case and she will decide whether a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officer had probable cause to stop the car at the Holland Tunnel. The officer said he stopped them over a windshield crack and objects hanging from the rearview mirror, but the defendants argued it’s more likely they were pulled over because they were driving a truck adorned with crosshairs and pro-Second Amendment decals.
“The issue is pretty simple, right?” Galis-Menendez said at a hearing last month. “Did he have a right to stop or not?”
While the trio’s fate could be decided Monday, the story already has ended tragically for the teen at the center of the case.
Jenea Patterson, 18, died of an apparent drug overdose last month at a hospital near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, according to her father, James Patterson.
“When I went down to get her in New York, I told her right then and there this is a warning sign for you,” Patterson said. “I grabbed her and I held her in my arms and I said ‘You’ve gotta get out of the game, Jenea, death is knocking at your door.'”
Patterson said the older of his two daughters had a good heart and enjoyed helping others, but started abusing prescription pills when she was 13. She later started using heroin and was sent to a program for troubled youth in 2014, where she met Arendt. But Patterson said his daughter got worse after leaving.
“I begged people, if you let that child on the street, she’s going to die.” Patterson said. “Here we are two years later, I’m burying my daughter.”
Grief stricken after the death of his daughter, Cramsey became an anti-drug crusader, starting a group of concerned parents and going on rescue missions to help addicts get into treatment. He owned a gun range in Pennsylvania but did not have a permit in New Jersey to transport five handguns, a shotgun and semi-automatic military-style rifle.
“I would tell the judge to let him go,” Patterson said. “The man, all he was trying to do was to help a child. They just need to drop the charges. He’s doing the job that (law enforcement) should be doing.”
Cornfield reported from Trenton, New Jersey. Contact him at https://www.twitter.com/JoshCornfield