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Man spent six weeks in jail after vitamins mistaken for heroin

October 29, 1997

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ For six weeks, Malvin Marshall sat in jail because police thought he was carrying heroin in his pocket. Police didn’t believe him when he said it was mushy vitamins.

On Monday, the charges were dropped. Lab tests showed he was telling the truth.

The substance was found in a small bag in the watch pocket of Marshall’s pants when the 27-year-old man was taken to the hospital Sept. 17 with an undisclosed illness.

``I didn’t know it was there,″ Marshall said. ``The tablets were all mushy. They had been washed in the washing machine.″

Police performed a field test and concluded the substance was 3 grams of heroin. But follow-up tests by the state crime laboratory proved otherwise.

``The field test positives are not foolproof,″ police Lt. Melvin Cumbee said.

The field test involves looking for color changes in an acid that is applied to the substance. The test results can be affected by residue such as laundry detergent.

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