Hummel sends message about drug activity
BY ED PARSONS
The Honorable Judge David W. Hummel Jr. on Monday sent a strong message that illegal drug activity will not be tolerated in Tyler County.
Ryan M. Archer, 22, of Dodd Street, Middlebourne, and Jeremy M. Keller, 36, also of Middlebourne appeared with their attorneys in Tyler County Circuit Court Monday for hearings to argue sentencing.
Both defendants had previously pleaded guilty before Judge Hummel to being part of a methamphetamine drug ring which had been operating from 2012 through 2014 in Tyler County.
On Feb. 9 Archer pleaded guilty to three felony counts of a 13-count indictment handed down by the October 2014 grand jury. Count one of the indictment charged him with conspiracy to commit an offense against the state, count six charged him with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory and count 78 charged him with manufacturing a controlled substance Methamphetamine. His 13 charges were part of a 98-count indictment which included several other individuals. Through a plea agreement with the state, Archer agreed to plead guilty to the three charges in exchange for the remaining 10 counts of the indictment to dismissed.
“This sentencing is about you, you’ve pleaded guilty,” Judge Hummel told Archer on Monday.
“I’m going to give you an opportunity to tell me anything that’s on your mind that may be relevant to this case and I will also let your attorney speak and the state’s attorney will be allowed to give input as well.”
Archer, then told the court he was sorry for what he had done and would greatly appreciate any alternative sentencing. “I can get a full-time job and I just need an opportunity to better myself and for my family,” said Archer. “I need to start a career.”
“What would your career be?” asked Hummel. Archer answered, “Equipment operator.”
Archer’s attorney, Matthew Graves, then spoke on his behalf, saying most of Archer’s problems have stemmed from financial issues, but he now has an opportunity from his step-father to have full-time employment.
He also argued for probation for his client and even for drug court. “Incarceration would do nothing but prevent him from providing support for his family,” stated Graves. He also mentioned that Archer provides 40 percent of the family income.
Judge Hummel then told Archer, he would think on it a little while and he could take a seat while Jeremy Keller argued his sentencing. Hummel said he would sentence them both together.
Keller also recently pleaded guilty to three felony counts of his 13-count indictment.
Through a plea agreement with the state, Keller agreed to plead guilty to counts one, two, and three, charging him with conspiracy to commit an offense against the state, operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug lab. and manufacturing a controlled substance Methamphetamine. The remaining 10 counts were dismissed.
Keller and his attorney were also given an opportunity to tell the court anything they wished to say prior to sentencing. Keller told the court he was sorry for his actions and his involvement in the meth ring. He said he had got caught up in it and has been going to Wheeling for treatment. Keller said he would like another chance to prove himself and again said he was sorry he hurt his family and let everyone down. Keller said he takes full responsibility for what he did, saying his father died when he was 15 and he wasn’t using that as an excuse, but things had been tough.
His attorney, Eric Powell, said he believed Keller was a good candidate for probation.
He said they had talked the night before by phone and he knows Keller understands what he did was wrong. He asked the court for alternative sentencing-probation, drug court, or reduced sentencing. He said he has had financial problems and could become a productive member of society.
Prosecutor Luke Furbee said he has known Keller nearly all his life. They are the same age and went to school together, but he failed to cooperate with the investigation and he has prior offenses. Back in 1999 he was charged with battery and spent time in the county jail. In 2006 he was charged with possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to six months, which was suspended and he was placed on probation. “The state’s position on sentencing would be to impose the one to five years for count 78 and for the remaining charges to run consecutive,” said Furbee. “If he makes parole, the court would suspend the other charges and he would be placed on probation.”
Furbee also said, “Part of the quality of life in a community is when we counter meth and meth manufacturing, are we doing anything to remove the problem? The problem with meth and manufacturing is it has the potential to affect other people in the community.”
After listening to both defendants, their attorneys, and prosecutor Furbee, Judge Hummel handed down the following sentence.
Both defendants were given sentences of one to five years in prison on the conspiracy charges, two to 10 years in prison for the charges of operating a clandestine drug laboratory, and one to five years in prison for manufacturing methamphetamine-all to run consecutively.
Both defendants were also fined $10,000 each and ordered to pay the cost of court-appointed attorneys and the cost of their prosecution. Hummel ordered both to be immediately remanded to the custody of the Division of Corrections. The effective sentence for each defendant is four to 20 years.