Jury finds Davis guilty on meth charges
A Middlebourne woman was found guilty April 13 in Tyler County Circuit Court of two felonies involving methamphetamine.
Shelly R. Davis, 43, of Third St., Middlebourne, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit an offense against the state by conspiring with 10 other individuals for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of precursor with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
The felony drug offenses had been handed down by the October 2014 grand jury. Davis, who had maintained her innocence, insisted upon a trial and earlier turned down a plea agreement which would have involved probation and drug court.
In his opening statement Prosecutor Luke Furbee told the jury, “During the trial you are going to learn that meth is something you can make in a garage and indeed it was being made in a garage by John VanCamp, on Rt. 180 here in Tyler County.. In a little while I suspect John VanCamp is going to appear in this courtroom here and testify about that. “I also suspect he’s going to testify that this defendant, Shelly Davis, was involved in meth making, between 2012 and 2013.
“What the evidence will show is that the defendant was helping John VanCamp and others by purchasing the raw materials needed to cook meth,” asserted Furbee. “Just like you can’t run a car without parts, you can’t make meth without certain things. That’s what we believe the evidence will show, nothing more and nothing less and by the close of the trial I think you will agree she needs to be held accountable for that.”
During her opening statement Defense Attorney Dreama D. Sinkkanen questioned the motive of VanCamp, the state’s main witness in the trial. She said Vancamp could be serving from 97 to 435 years, but because he agreed to testify against certain people he received a reduced sentence. “It is very much in Mr. VanCamp’s interest to say whoever the state wants him to say was involved because he had a long, long time to serve,” said Sinkkanen.
During the trial, Furbee called VanCamp as the state’s first witness. VanCamp, who is currently incarcerated at a work release center in West Virginia, pleaded guilty in 2014 to manufacturing methamphetamine in Tyler County.
Upon questioning from Furbee, VanCamp testified he had been involved in manufacturing meth since 2008 and has served time in prison on two prior occasions, along with probation. He also testified he has two college degrees, with one being in nursing. He said it was from his career in nursing that he became addicted to drugs.
During direct questioning Prosecutor Furbee asked VanCamp if he knew the defendant, VanCamp stated he did, “I have known her most of my life, she is about five years younger than I am.”
Furbee asked VanCamp if Davis had ever been involved with his cooking of meth. VanCamp said she had been, and in fact on several occasions she had helped with the manufacturing process. VanCamp went into detail as to the entire process of making methamphetamine. When asked, he said he considered himself an expert in cooking meth.
The prosecutor also questioned VanCamp about the defendant’s involvement with precursor, especially Sudafed. VanCamp said Davis had never bought Sudafed for him or Ben Davis, with whom she had had a relationship, as far as he could remember.
“You need Sudafed to make meth, is that right?” asked Furbee.
“Absolutely.” Vancamp said.”
“So when you were cooking meth did you buy all your own Sudafed? Or at some times did other people have to do that for you?” asked Furbee.
“Other people had to do that for us.” VanCamp said.
Furbee went on to question VanCamp about his arrest for methamphetamine making and the search warrant that was served on his residence.
Defense attorney Sinkkanen questioned VanCamp about his ability to come and go at the work release center where he is presently incarcerated. He said he gets two-hour furloughs where he can go into the community and once a week he gets a four-hour furlough. He said he also gets 48-hour leaves to go home once a month.
She asked him if he was supervised and he said not directly. He also said he works four nine-and-a-half hour days per week away from the facility. She then began questioning him on his addiction to meth and how long he had been using drugs. She asked, “Would it be fair to say you are a regular user of meth? He said he was when he wasn’t incarcerated.
She asked him several times about his ability to remember certain times and events while he was high on meth. She specifically questioned him on his recollection of certain people who may have been involved in the meth making and supplying of precursor. According to VanCamp, there were times when he had been on meth and he would be awake for several days and then would crash and sleep for days. He also said he was sure there were times he would forget things, but for the most part he could remember.
Sinkkanen asked VanCamp if during 2012 and 2013, when he was cooking meth, if he had been charged along with any of the others who were named in the indictment? He said he wasn’t because he had reached a plea agreement with the state that gave him immunity for his testimony. He said if he had not agreed to cooperate he would have been indicted with the others and it was in his best interest to cooperate. He said part of his agreement was to be truthful and accurate in his statements about the drug activity in Tyler County.
He said he would be truthful because if he is charged with false searing, the state could impose the original charges against him and withdraw the plea agreement.
Prosecutor Furbee also called Tyler County Sheriff Deputy Shannon Huffman to the stand and questioned him concerning his investigation into drug activity in Tyler County, in particular methamphetamine manufacturing. Huffman testified he was aware of Ben Davis, John VanCamp and others who were alleged to be making meth. He said after the arrest of VanCamp, he begin calling others in for questioning, including Shelly Davis. He said, Shelly Davis came to the sheriff’s office on her own after he had visited her home. He testified he never placed her under arrest and she was free to come and go at any time. He also said he never read her the Miranda rights, but he does recall going over them verbally with her. According to his testimony, she told him she supplied Sudafed to VanCamp.
Sinkkanen, questioned Huffman about his interview with Davis. She asked him if he had interviewed other people who were suspects in the case. Huffman answered he had. She asked if he had read them their Miranda rights and he said he had. Sinkkanen questioned Huffman about whether he had taken notes while interviewing Davis, to which he replied he had not, but did write up a statement a few days later. Sinkkanen stated there were several inconsistencies with his statement and interviewing process. She also questioned his ability to remember exactly what was said without taking notes or recording the interview.
Prosecutor Furbee also called Special Agents Craig Knight and Robert Mancas from the Drug Enforcement Agency, who provided and identified evidence from the search of VanCamp’s home and garage. They testified they had been involved in over 70 meth lab cases and were present during the search warrant execution in September 2013.
Also called as a witness was James Acuisto, vice president of government affairs for Apris, a company with over 450 employees out of Louisville, Ky. This is a company which keeps a computer data base of names of individuals along with their personal information for the purpose of identifying the sales from retailers of Sudafed and other substances used to manufacture illegal substances. According to Acuisto, Shelly Davis was in the data base for purchasing Sudafed from Wal-Mart during the time period from 2012 to 2013. She had not, however, gone over the legal limit of buys as allowed by law in West Virginia.
During closing arguments, Prosecutor Furbee stated the defense has tried to discredit the testimony of John Vancamp, because of the plea agreement he has with the state. But Furbee said, “That’s the way the system works.” He said he believes the state had proven their case against Davis and he asked the jury to find her guilty as charged.
Sinkkanen, addressed the jury during closing by contending there was absolutely no evidence presented to show Shelly Davis had provided precursor for Vancamp or anyone else. She said, yes the record shows she had purchased Sudafed but never in Tyler County and there has been no evidence that she ever brought Sudafed into Tyler County. She said even if she did, she had purchased it legally. She told the jury she would ask them to look at the evidence when making a decision, “You have to have evidence to prove she was involved and there is nothing.'”
Judge David Hummel, who presided over the case, instructed the jury that they must act only on the evidence as presented or introduced during the trial. He told them to carefully consider all evidence and the credibility of the witnesses.
After about an hour in deliberations the jury returned with a verdict of guilty on the charge of conspiracy and guilty as charged on the crime of possession of precursor.
Judge Hummel ordered Davis’ bond to continue as post conviction bond. He also ordered her to report to the court’s probation office that day for drug testing. He reminded her she is now a convicted felon and she is to return to court on May 21 for post-trial motion arguing and possible sentencing.