GALLIPOLIS — A Mason County, W.Va., man was found guilty Thursday in Gallia County Common Pleas Court on charges of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the production of methamphetamine.
According to court records, Travis Brunty, 37, of Ashton, W.Va., was originally indicted by the Gallia County Grand Jury in April 2015. Brunty was ultimately found guilty of the third-degree felony crime.
Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins represented the state while Attorney Barbara Wallen served as Brunty’s defense counsel. Adkins presented two witnesses for the state’s case in an attempt to provide that Brunty had knowingly possessed chemicals necessary for methamphetamine production and intended to make the drug around early March 2015.
Lt. Matt Champlin of the Gallipolis Police Department took the stand and testified regarding his expertise as a methamphetamine lab site neutralization technician. He said a black duffel bag was discovered inside a residence in which Brunty was staying. Inside the bag, officers discovered a variety of chemicals. Among them, Liquid Fire Drain Cleaner (sulfuric acid), ammonium nitrate, Crystal Drain Cleaner (sodium hydroxide), Coleman Camping Fuel, coffee filters and plastic tubing. Champlin said these “precursor items” are necessary for the production of meth.
Jury members saw evidence of multiple purchases of pseudo-ephedrine, which is accessible through a law enforcement database called the National Precursor Log Exchange. The database allows law enforcement to see real-time information regarding purchase of drugs often used in the production of meth.
Det. Chris Gruber of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office testified he processed the crime scene and preserved evidence. He interviewed Brunty and presented his statement to the jury.
Adkins totaled the evidence to the jury and noted the nature of the items located inside the duffel bag in Brunty’s room. Adkins argued that possessing each item individually was legal. The keeping of all of these items together proved intent that Brunty intended to produce meth.
Wallen argued that the state had failed to prove the chemicals belonged to Brunty and that he intended to produce meth. The defense argued that the duffel bag had not been fingerprinted, despite being in a closet in Brunty’s room, and that its ownership could be questioned. The defense also argued that having a collection of household items that could be purchased from a wide variety of locations did not prove intent to produce meth.
Brunty potentially faces the maximum 36 months in prison. His sentencing is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 16.
Adkins said he intends to argue for the full 36-month penalty, adding that “the way law sits currently, it is beneficial for the state to help fight meth producers before they are even able to start cooking.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.