Rabia Qutab graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree, attended graduate level classes and hoped to become a medical doctor.
But when Qutab — the 30-year-old daughter of Pakistani immigrants — needed cash, she traveled with a Brownwood woman from Fort Worth to Brownwood, hoping to sell 10 grams of methamphetamine, according to testimony before a 35th District Court jury earlier this week.
Both women and a man riding in their car were arrested in Brownwood, and a 35th District Court jury convicted Qutab Wednesday of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in a drug free zone. Prosecutor Chris Brown asked District Judge Steve Ellis to sentence Qutab to 20 years in prison.
Ellis sentenced Qutab — who admitted to using methamphetamine a week before her trial — to 10 years probation, but ordered her confined to the Brown County Jail for 90 days and imposed a $10,000 fine. Ellis also ordered Qutab to be confined later to a Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility.
Qutab’s female co-defendant, Millie Menchaca, 53 — who unlike Qutab had a previous record — was sentenced earlier to 20 years in prison. Her male co-defefendant, Juan Castaneda, 25, was sentenced earlier to nine years in prison on unrelated charges.
According to trial testimony:
On Aug. 3, 2016 — the day before her 28th birthday — Qutab was managing a restaurant in the Fort Worth area, and Menchaca also worked there. Qutab had bought 10 grams of methamphetamine and enlisted Manchaca’s help in selling the substance.
The two traveled to Brownwood, with Menchaca driving, in a car owned by a used car lot. The car lot was owned by Qutab’s mother-in-law, according to testimony.
After arriving in Brownwood at 6 p.m. the two picked up Castaneda, whose father had previously dated Menchaca. Castaneda, who bought a small amount of Qutab’s methamphetamine, was going to help the women sell the substance, according to testimony.
Around 9 p.m., then-Brownwood patrolman Kris Salazar — now a detective — finished up a traffic stop on a vehicle with a burned-out rear light. Seconds later, Salazar saw a car with a burned out headlight and stopped that vehicle, which was occupied by Qutab, Manchaca and Castaneda.
Salazar was quickly suspicious because of the three occupants’ demeanor and their inability to give details when Salazar asked them about their activities. Castaneda gave a name that later proved to be false.
Other officers including Brandon Miller arrived, and Miller recognized Castaneda as a man with active warrants, according to testimony.
Menchaca consented to a search of the car, and officers recovered nearly 9 grams of methamphetamine, testimony showed.
Defense attorney Jud Woodley argued that Menchaca did not have the authority to give officers consent to search the car because Qutab, not Menchaca, was in charge of the car. Woodley also argued that Manchaca did not actually give consent.
After Ellis dismissed the jury, Qutab was taken to the probation office to be drug tested. After it was announced in court that the test was positive, Qutab — who was living in Killeen before the trial — said she’d been off methamphetamine but had used the drug last week because of the stress of the trial.