Four admit guilt, all on Suboxone
Jeremy M. Keller, 36, of Middlebourne, appeared before the Honorable Judge David W. Hummel Jr. on Monday for a scheduled hearing to consider all motions prior to the setting of a trial date.
Keller was charged in a 13-count indictment by the October 2014 grand jury for allegedly participating in illegal drug activity in Tyler County between October 2012 and September 2013. He was also alleged to have been a part of a large group of individuals who were conspiring to commit an offense against the state by manufacturing methamphetamine.
On Monday Keller’s attorney, Eric Powell, presented to Judge Hummel a proposed plea agreement between his client and the state. Under the agreement Keller would plead guilty to three felony charges in exchange for dismissal of the remaining eight counts in the indictment. After looking over the proposed agreement, Judge Hummel questioned Keller concerning his rights to a trial. He also questioned his understanding of the agreement and the conditions and penalties to be imposed. Hummel told Keller in order for him to accept the agreement there would have to be a factual of what he did that made him guilty of the offenses he was pleading to. Hummel said, you will have to tell the court what you did.
Judge Hummel told Prosecutor Luke Furbee to tell the court what evidence he would present if the case were to proceed to trial. Furbee stated that in January 2013 the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office had started an investigation into activity of drug manufacturing by Ben Davis and John VanCamp. He said during the investigation other names surfaced and Jeremy Keller was identified as one of the purchasers of precursor to the manufacture of methamphetamine. He was also named by Ben Davis as one of the provider’s of precursor and that they had used his trailer in which to cook meth.
Keller told the court he bought precursors with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. He said he conspired with others to do so and had cooked the meth on several occasions in his trailer. Hummel accepted the plea agreement and asked Keller how he pleaded to counts one, two, and three of the indictment. Keller pleaded guilty to the charges and the remaining charges were dismissed.
During the questioning of Keller, Judge Hummel asked him if he was on any medication. Keller said he was using Suboxone as prescribed by his doctor at the Wheeling Treatment Center. Hummel asked him why he got involved in the manufacturing of meth. Keller said he was struggling and having a hard time and it seemed like the only way out. He also said that he is trying and that is why he is taking Suboxone. Hummel said, “Suboxone treatment is garbage.”
Judge Hummel then told Keller that he is now a felon. “I will set sentencing for another date and will contact your attorney,” advised Hummel.
Also pleading guilty to illegal drug activity on Monday were Ryen M. Archer, 22, of Dodd Street, Middlebourne, and Mary L. Bassett, 26, of Dry Run Road, Sistersville. Archer was indicted by the June 2014 grand jury and Bassett by the October 2014 grand jury. Both appeared in court with their attorneys for scheduled pre-trial motion hearings, but informed the court they had reached plea agreements with the state.
Judge Hummel combined the two cases into one hearing for the purpose of hearing the agreements and receiving the pleas. Bassett, who is currently incarcerated at the North Central Regional Jail, agreed on Monday to plead guilty to a probation violation and to counts two and four of her four-count felony indictment. Count two of the indictment charges her with operating a clandestine drug laboratory and count four with manufacturing of a controlled substance. In exchange for her plea, the remaining two counts of her indictment will be dismissed.
After finding the court had jurisdiction based on the state’s evidence, Judge Hummel asked Bassett what she did. She said she assisted in the manufacturing of meth by purchasing precursor. She also said she had knowledge of Gary Willey cooking methamphetamine. Hummel asked Bassett if she had taken any medications which were not prescribed to her in the last 24 hrs. She indicated she had taken Suboxone, which she had received from someone in jail.
Hummel accepted her guilty plea and told her he would set another date for sentencing. Possible sentences are one to five years for count two and one to 10 years for count four.
Judge Hummel also accepted the guilty pleas of Archer who agreed to plead guilty to counts one, six, and 78 of his 13-count felony indictment. Count one charges him with conspiracy to commit an offense against the state to feloniously and unlawfully manufacture methamphetamine, count six charges him with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, and count 78 charges him with the felony offense of possession of precursor with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. The remaining charges in the indictment were dismissed.
Archer told the court he was guilty of the charges because he purchased precursors and assisted with the cooking of the methamphetamine. He said he entered into this agreement freely and voluntarily. When asked by Judge Hummel if he was on any medications, he replied he was on Suboxone. He faces a possible sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Judge Hummel will set another date for arguing sentencing.
Matthew D. Witsoe, 26, currently incarcerated, appeared in court Monday alongside his attorney, Brent Clyburn, for a preliminary probation revocation hearing. Witsoe was indicted by the February 2014 grand jury on four separate counts. Count one was a felony offense of breaking and entering a building other than a dwelling. He was also charged with two misdemeanor offenses of destruction of property and a felony offense of conspiracy to commit an offense against the state by conspiring with another individual for the purpose of entering without breaking into a building other than a dwelling.
Witsoe, later in 2014, entered into a plea agreement with the state whereby he was sentenced to one to five years in the state penitentiary for men. The sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation which he later was accused of breaking when he failed a drug test. Prior to revoking his probation, he fled and a capias was issued for his arrest. He was picked up in December 2014. At Monday’s hearing Clyburn said his client was ready to admit to the probation violation.
Judge Hummel questioned Witsoe as to why he broke into the building. Witsoe said he looked in and saw the kitchen and broke in and got some food and a drink. Witsoe also told the court he tested positive for methamphetamine and Suboxone when he was on probation. Hummel then sentenced him to his original sentence of one to five with credit for time served.