(IRVINE, Calif.) — A California woman coerced her husband into calling police after she planted drugs in the car of a PTA volunteer at their child’s school, the husband’s lawyer said in court Wednesday.
Kent Easter, 40, of Irvine, Calif., is charged with false imprisonment for his alleged role in having school volunteer Kelli Peters arrested on drug charges in February 2011. Easter has pleaded not guilty.
His wife, Jill Easter, 40, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment last month and was sentenced to one year in jail.
Prosecutors say the initial incident began in 2010 when the Easters became upset with Peters and accused her of not properly supervising their son. The couple, according to prosecutors, framed Peters by planting drugs in her car and alerting police.
Defense attorney Tom Bienert said Jill Easter planted the drugs in Peters’ car and never told her husband the truth.
“This is a case of a trusting husband, no more or less,” Bienert said in court Wednesday. “Jill Easter planted drugs in that car. The problem is she never told her husband.”
Bienert described Easter as a “trusting husband” who couldn’t stand up for himself because he “didn’t have a backbone against his wife.”
Bienert said Jill Easter wore the pants in the family.
Jurors listened to the call to police Kent Easter allegedly made to report that he had seen drugs in Peters’ car Feb. 17, 2011. Prosecutors say Easter used a phony name and at times a fake Indian accent to disguise himself.
“What is your name?” the operator asked.
“VJ Chandrasckhr,” the man responded.
Later in the call, Easter told police that Peters was driving erratically. “I saw her car driving very erratically. And it looked like something behind the seat of the truck,” he said.
“You specifically saw her place something behind her seat?” the operator asked.
“Yeah, it looked like she had some pills or something,” the man said.
The defense has not denied that Easter made the call.
But his lawyer says Easter was at home sick the night before his wife planted marijuana, a pipe and bags of prescription painkillers and Vicodin in Peters’ car. Investigators say they found both Kent and Jill’s DNA on the bags of marijuana.
“The defendants planted drugs in her car, called 911 and had [Peters] detained by police,” prosecutor Christopher Duff told the jury.
Peters, who also took the stand Wednesday, cried as she recalled watching police search her car and find a stash of drugs that did not belong to her.
Peters was eventually released from police custody when they couldn’t find any evidence to support drug use or possession.
Kent Easter lost his job with a law firm over the incident. He could face up to three years in jail if convicted.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire