Smith guilty as charged
“I wasn’t using methamphetamines,” said defendant Jason Smith to Judge David W. Hummel, Jr., “but I have struggled with alcohol addiction.”
Hummel told Smith, “You have the first opportunity, and the last word, before I pass sentence. Whatever you want the court to consider, now is the time to speak up.”
Smith, who is from Middlebourne, pleaded guilty to one count, conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance (methamphetamine) earlier this month. He was charged as a co-conspirator in the arrest of John Vancamp, who pleaded guilty last April to manufacturing methamphetamines in his home on Main Street. Vancamp is currently serving the maximum sentence (not less than 2 nor more than ten years) in a WV Division of Corrections facility.
Smith, who appeared for sentencing with his attorney, Kevin Neiswonger, addressed Judge Hummel and lobbied for home confinement instead of incarceration.
“I have three children that I pay child support for,” said Smith. “It was stupid of me to enable (Vancamp) to make the meth.”
Smith tried to persuade the court he “wasn’t totally clear” on John Vancamp’s intentions. “He had an addiction. I have an addiction to alcohol, so I could understand that,” explained Smith to the court.
“I thought I was helping out a friend,” he added. “I don’t use meth.”
Smith, who had purchased Sudafed, an ingredient used in the meth “cooking” process, was found to have acetone, propane, and drain cleaner – components used in making methamphetamine – in his possession when a search was conducted at his home.
Smith’s attorney spoke on behalf of his client, saying, “Your honor, Mr. Smith fully cooperated with law enforcement. He immediately sat down with them and told them what was going on, and confessed his actions.”
“He wasn’t fully aware of Vancamp;s plans,” asserted Neiswonger. “Mr. Smith thought he was helping a friend. He’s not a drug user, or in the drug trade.”
“He is of good character. He wasn’t fully aware of his culpabiilty. We would ask the court sentence Mr. Smith to home confinement in tandem with alcohol counseling,” concluded Neiswonger.
Prosecuting Attorney D. Luke Furbee spoke on behalf of the state, beginning by saying, “If it please the court, I do not agree with Mr. Neiswonger’s assessment as to Smith’s culpability or character.”
“When the search warrant was issued (for Smith’s property), almost all the things needed to home-manufacture methanphetamines was found.”
“That, combined with the knowledge of Vancamp’s addiction, shows that Mr. Smith was fully aware of what was going on.”
“This is another example of a defendant who has been given multiple opportunities in the past to ‘straighten up and fly right’,” the prosecutor continued.
“In order to be considered for alternate sentencing, the defendant should be able to demonstrate by his background, character, and criminal history that he would not re-offend,” stated Prosecutor Furbee.
“The defendant was already on probation when he committed this offense,” Furbee added, saying, “To put Mr. Smith on home confinement sends the wrong message.”
“This is the second time law enforcement has raided a meth lab right here on Main Street, since I became prosecutor,” Furbee remarked. “These facilities present a danger to the community, and it’s an embarrassment to the community.”
“We can go a long way here today to redress that blemish on our community,” Furbee asserted. “The state requests the defendant be held accountable to the full extent the law allows.”
Smith then re-addressed the judge, claiming he “didn’t know what (Vancamp) was going to do”.
“Everything they found in my house was in plain sight. I used those things for my grille. I do know I’m a repeat offender,” said Smith, “but I don’t believe I’m a bad person.”
“The reason I was on probation (at the time of his arrest) it was unsupervised probation, for not making child support payments. It was for monetary reasons,” Smith explained.
Judge Hummel spoke at the conclusion of Smith’s statements, saying, “You knew exactly what Mr. Vancamp was doing (making methamphetamines).”
“You were helping him get exactly what he needed to cook meth in Tyler County,” he continued.
“You just don’t get,” said Hummel. “You didn’t get it in ’05, ’06, ’08, or in 2010,” he told Smith. “Here we are again, in 2011. You’ve been given ample opportunity, time and again, but you continue to use alcohol as a crutch. You have done nothing to address your alcohol problem, have you?”
Smith admitted he’d attended “a few meetings a couple of years back.”
“This is an embarrassment to our community,” said Judge Hummel, “and accordingly, I sentence you to a term of not less than one, nor more than 5 years to a Division of Corrections facility, to begin forthwith.”
Smith was remanded into the custody of Tyler Co. Sheriff’s Office for transport and fined $250 by the court.