Updated Fri, Jul 19, 2013 5:04 am
A Laurelville man was sentenced to three years in prison for having a methamphetamine lab in his home after a Hocking County jury found him guilty on Thursday.
Michael D. Gierhart II was found guilty of illegal manufacturing of meth, illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs and possession of criminal tools.
The jury, made up of eight women and four men, deliberated for three hours on Thursday.
The charges stem from an incident on Jan. 16.
The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at Gierhart’s Stump Run Road residence in Laurelville because they received information that Trina Rossiter, who was wanted on a warrant, would be there, testified HSCO Detective Caleb Moritz, who also serves on the Fairfield-Hocking Major Crimes Unit.
Rossiter was in the residence and arrested.
Moritz said the major crimes unit found materials used for producing meth using the “one-pot” or “shake and bake” method.
Samples of 41.5 grams of liquid found in a Mason jar on the kitchen counter and plastic tubing was seized and sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s lab. Both were found to contain meth.
Fairfield County Judge Dale Crawford, who is the acting judge in the case, sentenced Gierhart after the verdict was announced.
Gierhart was sentenced to three years in prison for the manufacturing charge, two years for the possession of chemicals charge and six months for the possession of criminal tools charge.
The sentences will run concurrently, so Gierhart will spend three years in prison.
Crawford granted him time served for the 76 days he has already spent in jail.
Hocking County Prosecutor Lania Fetherolf called five witnesses during the trial on Wednesday.
Jason Sarver, Gierhart’s attorney, called his client as the only defense witness.
Gierhart testified the meth lab materials found in his home were from his wife’s cousin’s house.
He said her boyfriend had recently been arrested for manufacturing meth, and that she contacted Gierhart to pick up the remaining materials he had used to make meth.
Fetherolf pointed out that three investigators from the major crimes unit testified that evidence from a meth lab is either seized or destroyed because of it being deemed hazardous.
She said the material would not have been left there for Gierhart to pick up.
Crawford said during sentencing that he could punish Gierhart for perjury, but would not.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years and that was the most cockamamie story I have ever heard,” Crawford said.
Sarver said the defense’s case would have been stronger if three witnesses he subpoenaed had come to trial. The witnesses were Rossiter, the woman whose home Gierhart said he got the materials from, and another woman who helped him move the materials to his trailer.
“We understand the jury’s decision and respect it. It is my understanding that my client plans to appeal a decision made in the suppression hearing,” Sarver said.
Gierhart declined to speak during sentencing when asked by Crawford.
“We are pleased with the results. It is always good to get drugs off the streets,” Fetherolf said.
Gierhart was taken into custody by HCSO deputies and was transported to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.
This article was contributed by the Logan Daily News.
Photo by Gretchen Gregory