The Richmond Register

September 26, 2012

Jury finds former EKU professor guilty of trafficking in marijuana

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Former Eastern Kentucky University professor Dr. Larry Belknap, 63, was found guilty Tuesday of trafficking in more than 8 ounces of marijuana, but less than 5 pounds, which is a Class D felony, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith.

The jury deliberated for close to five hours and recommended a sentence of one year. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 1 at 1:30 p.m.

Belknap was arrested Jan. 5 after troopers from the Kentucky State Police Cannabis Suppression Branch, the governor’s marijuana strike force, searched his Phelps Road home and discovered 8.6 pounds of marijuana, according to KSP spokesperson Trooper Paul Blanton.

Officers asked Belknap if they could look around his home, Blanton said, and the professor gave his consent.

The prosecution argued that 8 pounds of marijuana was more than required for personal use, and that Belknap possessed some of substance with the intent to traffic, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith.

During the trial, two KSP troopers, a KSP forensic lab technician and one DEA agent were called to the stand and testified that digital scales, 28 numbered baggies of marijuana and 45 empty numbered baggies with marijuana residue had been found in Belknap’s home, Smith said.

The defense called Belknap to the stand as the only witness. He stated that he had shared marijuana with others under varying circumstances and had grown the marijuana for personal use.

Investigators had found root bulbs and divots in the ground that indicated Belknap had grown marijuana, Smith said.

Belknap was a tenured professor at EKU’s Department of Recreation and Park Administration but resigned from the university shortly after his arrest.

He had taught undergraduate and graduate courses in outdoor recreation, park management, planning and design, research/evaluation, nature tourism and interpretive services, according to EKU's website.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.