Charges against three people arrested during a meth lab bust that sent a Richmond Police officer to the hospital will be heard by a Madison grand jury.
Coleman Gibbs, 31, Derrick McKinney 25, and Tashia Phillips, 25, all of Richmond, were arrested Jan. 20 by officers of the Central Kentucky Area Drug Task Force after they received a tip that meth was being manufactured in a mobile home at 416 N. Second St. in Richmond, according to Jason Parker, the task force director.
The cases against all three defendants were on the Madison District Court docket Wednesday, but only Gibbs asked for a hearing. Attorneys for McKinney and Phillips requested their cases go directly to the grand jury.
Acting on an informant’s tip received Jan. 16 that Phillips and McKinney would “be cooking meth” at the mobile home, two detectives went to investigate, task force officer Troy Willard testified Wednesday. As they approached, they could “smell the ether” that is released when meth is being cooked, he said. The odor got stronger as they knocked on the door.
Gibbs opened the door in response to the officers’ knock, Willard said. When the door opened, they also could see Phillips and McKinney inside, he said.
After obtaining a search warrant, the officers entered the mobile home and found a “one-step lab” in the process of cooking meth, Willard said as he was questioned by County Attorney Marc Robbins.
McKinney told the officers Gibbs had brought Mason jars, pseudoephedrine pills and ammonia to the site to prepare the illegal substance, Willard said.
Reading from the search warrant affidavit, which included information from the informant, Gibbs’ public advocate attorney Meena Mohanty asked Willard why the informant had said only Phillips and McKinney had obtained the precursors they would use to manufacture the methaphetamine.
The informant had no reason to hold back knowledge that Gibbs was involved, Mohanty said. “Isn’t that right?”
The investigators also had no idea how long Gibbs had been inside the mobile home when they arrived, Willard said in response to Mohanty’s questioning.
Willard agreed to the defense attorney’s assertion that the only thing tying Mr. Gibbs to the illegal activity other than McKinney’s statement was his presence there.
Mohanty told Judge Brandy O. Brown, “We don’t know how long Mr. Gibb was there.” He “could have been there only 30 seconds” before the officers arrived.
Because the informant had not previously named Gibbs as a suspect does not mean he was uninvolved in obtaining the ingredients or manufacturing process, Robbins said.
Brown said enough evidence had been given to let a grand jury decide whether Gibbs was “at the wrong place at the wrong time” or “actively involved.”
The judge refused to lower bond for either Gibbs or McKinney, set for each at $15,000 cash. However, she lowered Phillips’ bond from $15,000 cash to $7,500 cash or property.
Shawn Noe, charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance-methamphetamine, first offense, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday, and a grand jury will hear his case.
The cases of six people arrested Jan. 25 and charged with promoting protitution after Richmond Police raided three massage parlors was continued until March 9.
Robbins said all of the defense attorneys involved could not be present for the preminary hearing previously set for Wednesday.
Bill Robinson can be reached at email@example.com or at 624-6622.