Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

June 7, 2014

Charges dropped in case of meth lab in backpack

McDowell County Grand Jury to revisit accusations

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — Charges against a McDowell County man who was allegedly riding his bicycle with an active meth lab in his backpack were dismissed Friday when a deputy helping flood victims could not appear for a hearing, but prosecutors still plan to present the case to the McDowell County Grand Jury.

Dennis Eugene Baker Jr., 31, of War, was scheduled to appear Friday before Magistrate Steven Cox for a preliminary hearing. Baker was arrested on May 28 after the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous call that a man on a bicycle was carrying a portable meth lab. Baker was found in Shaft Hollow in the Caretta area. Investigators found an active meth lab in a backpack, and a sheriff’s department team trained to handle such labs was dispatched. Baker was charged with operating a meth lab and unlawful possession of a controlled substance.

Baker’s case was set for a preliminary hearing, but the charges were dismissed because the arresting officer, Deputy L. Vaselaros, was unable to attend, according to Prosecuting Attorney Ed Kornish. Vaselaros is among the deputies helping with relief efforts in the Panther area, which was hit by a serious flood early Thursday morning.

Baker, who was incarcerated at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver after not being able to post bond, was released, according to Kornish. There are plans to present the case to the McDowell County Grand Jury at a future date.

The next grand jury convenes on June 17; however, prosecutors are awaiting laboratory reports, which could take four to five months to complete, Kornish said.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com