FELLSMERE, FL (Gray News) - As Deputy Luke Keppel drove towards David Ellis’ home last Thursday, he could see a large cloud of smoke leaving a trail across the sky.
Neighbors had reported someone open burning in the area. When Keppel arrived, he noticed the smoke had a distinct odor.
Ellis answered the door when Keppel knocked and the two approached the flames. Ellis reportedly told him it was just leaves, but that’s not what Keppel smelled.
“Upon reaching the fire pile, I could smell a strong odor of burnt cannabis and see remnants of small cannabis plants and leaves,” Keppel wrote in a police report reviewed by the Miami Herald.
Keppel told Ellis that was cannabis he was burning. Ellis called it “trash” and insisted he was just burning leaves.
Keppel told him again he had marijuana in the fire. Ellis, again, said it was trash.
“It’s trash. You don’t smoke that,” Ellis clarified. “I’ve got like a quarter pound of it inside.”
After some time, Ellis told the deputy he needed to go back inside his home and turn off the stove. Keppel said he’d have to follow, which Ellis indicated he didn’t mind.
Keppel wrote in his report that he observed a large aluminum tray with raw cannabis and could smell a strong odor of raw cannabis while inside.
The two made their way back outside and Ellis asked Keppel if he’d seen his pot while inside the home.
Keppel confirmed that he did, and Ellis reportedly replied, “I’ve got more in the refrigerator.”
Other officers arrived to provide backup. When Ellis was told he had the right to remain silent, he gave them permission to search his home.
Even so, he told them he would not reveal where he got the pot from.
Investigators said they found 174 grams of raw cannabis and 15.4 grams of THC wax.
Ellis was taken to the Indian River County Jail on felony and misdemeanor drug charges. He posted his $6,000 bond and was released on Friday.