The issue of a law officer’s legal authority in a specified area has come into question during a drug case being prosecuted in a Pauls Valley courtroom.

At issue in the case against local resident Audra Lee Rico, 27, is the authority of the Lighthorse Police officer who arrested her and her brother George Edward Rico Jr., 34, late last year.

The siblings were arrested Dec. 16 just north of Pauls Valley. Days later they were charged with possessing illegal drugs and a handgun reported to be stolen.

Making the arrest was Lighthorse Officer Alyson Russell.

Russell’s authority to make the arrest came into question Wednesday during a preliminary hearing for Audra Rico in Garvin County District Court.

That authority was questioned by Rico’s court-appointed attorney, Billy Vandever, after the hearing had begun and Russell had taken the witness stand to offer her testimony.

Vandever raised questions on the “verbal authorization” from the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department allowing Russell to act as a deputy while on patrol in this county.

The defense contention is Russell didn’t have the authority to make the arrest as a law enforcement officer off of tribal lands without a formal agreement between Garvin County and the Lighthorse Police, which is a part of the Chickasaw Nation.

Those questions put an immediate stop to the hearing as Special District Judge Trisha Misak directed opposing attorneys in the case — Vandever and Assistant District Attorney Dee Graves — to furnish statutory and case law on the issue by May 31.

A ruling on the verbal authorization issue is expected to come from Misak during a hearing now scheduled for June 7.

It was an improper turn in December by a vehicle on the nearby Kimberlin Road that drew the attention of Russell, who was located on the Interstate 35 exit ramp at the time.

The pickup driven by Audra Rico made a U-turn on Kimberlin before it stopped on the side of an entrance ramp to the interstate roadway.

A K-9 drug dog later brought to the scene alerted on the vehicle, which led to officers finding four small baggies containing about 6 grams of methamphetamine and a loaded handgun earlier reported stolen in Pauls Valley.

The multiple charges against George Rico are also still pending.

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