By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON - It took a jury less than a half hour to convict a man arrested in connection with one of Bell County's largest drug seizures ever.
Terrance Damien Ford, 37, will be sentenced today for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, 400 grams or more. Ford faces a minimum sentence of 15 years and could be in prison for the rest of his life.
Law enforcement witnesses and prosecutors portrayed Ford as a worker bee in a cocaine ring in Killeen that was found with more than 3 kilograms of cocaine in December 2008. Brothers Kevin Lemar Warren and Keith Lemar Warren were also arrested in connection with the drug bust. They have yet to face trial.
The value of the cocaine has been estimated at between $60,000 and $75,000 uncut. At the time of Ford's arrest, the Killeen Police Department estimated the total value of the drugs could be as high as $1.2 million when cut and transformed into crack cocaine.
Assistant Bell County Prosecutor Mike Waldman described an operation aiming to turn the powder cocaine into crack as a poison manufacturing plant.
"They're (Ford and the Warren brothers) responsible for turning powder into crack and poisoning the community one rock at a time," Waldman told the jury during closing arguments.
Ford showed little emotion during the verdict. After it was read, he made some gestures to family members in the crowd before being taken back to Bell County Jail, where he has been detained since his arrest.
Ford won a small victory in the trial. Prosecutors had sought to include a deadly weapon as part of the charge. A .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol was found inside an apartment in the 3700 block of Pak Court when police raided it Dec. 23, 2008. The exclusion of the deadly weapon portion of the charge will slacken certain parole conditions for Ford.
The bust was described as an extremely lucky day for Killeen police. A patrol officer named Richard Bradley had been searching for a person at the residence when he smelled what he perceived to be burning marijuana.
Bradley entered the apartment through an unlocked door and found a large amount of drugs. He then left and retrieved a search warrant.
When officers arrived at the home, they found about 2 pounds of marijuana, 3 kilograms of cocaine and equipment that appeared to have been used to dilute and boil the cocaine into a rock cocaine for distribution. Waldman described a microwave caked with cocaine and several measuring devices coated with traces of cocaine.
Defense attorney Bobby Barina attacked KPD's actions during his closing arguments, insisting the first search was illegal. Barina told jurors it was up to them to determine if KPD should be punished or rewarded for what he saw as a department exceeding its authority.
"What it really comes down to, do you want officers to enter the apartment or not," he said.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.