Police burned evidence, yes, but Pa. woman still loses drug appeal, prison term upheld
(CBS/AP) PITTSBURGH - A Pittsburgh woman convicted of felony drug possession has lost an appeal that was based on grounds that police burned items of evidence, including her change purse and heroin.

Tiona Jones will have to complete her five-year federal prison sentence in the unusual case.

Jones, 33, argued that the charges against her should be dismissed because police burning the items after cleaning out an evidence room due to a ventilation problem.

Jones' attorney had argued her defense depended upon showing the jury the purse could have been zipped closed with the drugs in it. Jones claims that's how the purse appeared during a May 2008 traffic stop, when an officer says he saw the drugs sticking out of the open purse.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a ruling by a judge last year, that city police didn't purposely thwart Jones' defense by burning the the purse and the drugs.

More on Crimesider
April 8, 2011 - Purse destroyed by police key to Pa. woman's drug defense