Jury finds NJ Weedman not guilty of witness tampering — So why is he still in jail?
TRENTON — Despite a victory in court for Ed "NJ Weedman" Forchion on Thursday, he remains behind bars.
A jury found Forchion not guilty of a witness tampering charge while they ended hung on a second charge, according to NJ.com.
Forchion, who is representing himself, asked the judge to reopen his detention hearing but was told the motion needed to be properly filed. Prosecutors still have the option of trying him again on the charge that the jury could not come to agreement on.
The charges against Forchion stem from a raid that narcotics officers executed at his Trenton eatery, NJ Weedman’s Joint. Forchion has not yet been tried on those drug charges — which he is confident he will beat, promising last year that he would give prosecutors an "ass whoopin’" in court.
After his arrest, Forchion used social media to out and shame the undercover informant who help investigators bust him. That's what got him charged with witness tampering.
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Katz argued that Forchion was putting the informant at risk by spreading his name on social media. But Forchion stated that he never intended to intimidate the informant.
Under the state's new bail reform laws, which has allowed most defendants to be released without bail, Forchion has been held at Mercer County's jail since March 3 because witness tampering is one of the few charges that a judge may order a detention without bail in order to ensure the safety of the public or witnesses.
Before his arrest on the witness tampering charges this year, police charged him with cyber harassment over an online video in which he calls a Trenton police officer a pedophile. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey said the charge is unconstitutional.
In a news conference on his Facebook page after the verdict was announced, Forchion thanked the jury. He said his motion for release will be filed by Monday by lawyers assisting him with the case.
"It's a victory, people, no matter what. The state could not get 12," Forchion said.
He wants to remain "respectful" towards the court but admitted that after waving at the jury and judge as he left the court room, he yelled "f**k you, prosecutor."
"I can't be humble. I just spent eight months here in jail for what I feel wasn't a crime in the first place," Forchion said, adding that he once he is out of jail he will host a
"f**k the prosecutor " party at his restaurant.
He called himself a "proud, patriotic pothead" for the past 20 years and said the judge denied him the chance to ask prospective jurors if they felt they were a "peer" of his.
Fochion said the Prosecutor's Office has 120 days to try the case again or dismiss the charge. He is ready to go to trial and will not take a plea deal
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report