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January 22, 2013

OU WR Saunders has charges dropped, Johnson gets probation

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NORMAN, Okla. -- Misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession against Oklahoma starting wide receiver Jalen Saunders have been dropped due to a lack of evidence after he and teammate Cortez Johnson were arrested and charged with the crime Dec. 2, 2012 during a traffic stop in Norman.

While Saunders' charges were dropped, Johnson pleaded guilty Tuesday in front of Cleveland County Judge Steve Tice to one count of misdemeanor marijuana possession and will be placed on six months probation.

HD: Eddie Radosevich & RJ Young breakdown Tuesday's court proceedings

Johnson and Saunders were arrested early morning Dec. 2, and released on bail between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. just one day after clinching a share of the Big 12 title with a 24-17 win against Texas Christian.

According the arresting affidavit filed by Officer Kevin Brandon to the Cleveland County Courthouse, Johnson was pulled over while driving Saunders' car at 12:57 a.m. for a nonfunctioning rear turn signal.

Brandon wrote he smelled burnt marijuana upon his first visit to the vehicle. After conducting a warrant and driver's license check, he asked Saunders and Johnson about the smell.

"I initially went back to my vehicle to conduct a driver's license and warrant check on both individuals," Brandon wrote in the affidavit. "I then approached the vehicle again and asked the occupants why the vehicle had a very strong odor of freshly burnt marijuana. Saunders stated that he had smoked marijuana earlier in the evening in Oklahoma City but that no marijuana had been in the vehicle."

Brandon then asked Johnson and Saunders to exit the vehicle so he could search the interior.

"I immediately noticed that the canvas fitting around the emergency brake appeared to have been disturbed and not placed back into the proper position," Brandon wrote in the affidavit. "I looked under the fitting and observed a marijuana bud."

The officer also uncovered three cigars he wrote smelled like burnt marijuana as well as a marijuana stem in the center console. Neither Johnson nor Saunders claimed the cigars or marijuana stem.

Bob Stoops was hesitant to discuss Saunders' status in the days leading up to the Cotton Bowl only to say his situation was "being handled internally."

Just before the Sooners arrived in Arlington for the start of Cotton Bowl preparations, Stoops announced Saunders would play in the bowl game even though the status of his court case had not been determined.

Saunders recorded a game-high nine catches for 63 yards in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. He finished the season with 62 receptions, 829 yards receiving and three touchdowns.



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