Owah Found Not Guilty

HARRISONBURG - A Rockingham County judge found a former star Harrisonburg High School athlete accused of possessing marijuana not guilty Thursday during a hearing in General District Court.

Alex Owah, 19, was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana on May 26, just days before he won three gold medals at a state track meet.

Around 10:30 p.m. on the day of his arrest, Harrisonburg police officers observed Owah's Ford Explorer speeding on East Washington Street.

After Owah was pulled over, an officer testified, he appeared tense and nervous.

A second officer, who had a police dog, provided backup for the initial officer. During the stop, the second officer used the police dog to do a "free air" search of the vehicle.

Police testified that the dog picked up the scent of drugs in the vehicle. Officers say they then searched the Explorer and found a small amount of marijuana, including a stem in the center console and some seeds and flakes on the passenger-side floorboard.

During the hearing, Owah's father testified that his other son allowed some friends to use the car and the marijuana likely belonged to them.

Judge Richard Claybrook ruled there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the pot was Owah's or that he even knew it was in the vehicle.

Owah's defense attorney, John Holloran, said his client's family is pleased with the verdict and they are happy their son will be able to move on with his education.

Owah is scheduled to attend Hargrave Military Academy later this month.

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