KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The trial of a Kansas City business owner accused of selling the banned substance known as K2 began Monday in a Jackson County courtroom. It's thought to be the first trial of its kind in the area since lawmakers passed a statewide ban in 2010.
Micah Riggs, owner of Midtown's Coffee Wonk, is facing three felony counts for possession of controlled substance, intent to distribute and intent to manufacture a controlled substance.
In September 2010, Kansas City police officers seized packets of "Syn Incense" from Riggs' business. They also said they found evidence of a homegrown lab inside the building at 35th and Broadway.
According to police, lab tests of the incense products showed they contained the illegal cannabinoid JWH-018 -- one of the outlawed chemicals. The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office charged Riggs in March 2011.
A 41 Action News investigation had previously shown how chemists were tweaking the molecular ingredients in the K2 knock offs to evade the ban. Riggs was interviewed for that 2010 story and his business was booming.
Riggs has maintained the "Syn Incense" products he sold do not contain illegal chemicals. He also believes he is being targeted by authorities.
A spokesman with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office said individuals have been charged and convicted of K2 possession since the ban took effect. However, this is believed to be the first local case of a business owner facing charges for selling K2-related products.
Riggs turned down two different plea offers prior to the trial. In June 2012, prosecutors offered a suspended imposition of sentence in exchange for guilty pleas. In December 2012, prosecutors offered to dismiss all charges in exchange for "Regulated Industries and/or the Kansas City Missouri Police Department to inspect and monitor his business for a period of two years."
"He wants to set a precedent for these types of prosecutions and doesn't feel he did anything wrong," Riggs' attorney, Justin Summary, told 41 Action News.
The trial is expected to last three days. Attorneys expected Monday to mostly include jury selection and possibly opening statements.
Riggs also faces other K2-related charges in Jackson County. In October 2012, an undercover detective bought an incense product from Coffee Wonk, according to police documents.
Police seized those products from the business and said a lab test later showed those items also had evidence of the illegal chemical compounds. Prosecutors charged Riggs in January with a felony count.