Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 19, 2012

Accused meth cooks on trial

TAHLEQUAH — Jurors on Wednesday could decide the case of a local man and woman accused of child endangerment and endeavoring to manufacture methamphetamine.

The trial of Kelly Ray Kile, 38, and Sarah Dee Billings, 29, opened with statements from Assistant District Attorney B.J. Baker and the couple’s defense attorney, A.J. Garcia. Much of Tuesday’s testimony came from District 27 Drug Task Force investigators Eldon Graves and Casey Baker.

Authorities say they served a search warrant at a home on Oakdale Drive in January 2011 and found Kile, Billings, and two other adults inside, along with a 3-year-old girl. Law enforcement officers allegedly found components commonly used to produce meth; numerous items of drug paraphernalia; and several firearms, scattered throughout the house.

B.J. Baker said the team of officers who served the warrant was met at the door of the home with “the instant smell” of a fuel-like substance he associated with the production of methamphetamine.

Casey Baker told jurors the 3-year-old daughter of the couple on trial was found in one of the home’s bedrooms – the room from which emanated the strongest smell of fuel. He said that based on his training and previous experience with meth labs, he assumed meth had been cooked in that room at some point.

“It sure smelled like it,” said Casey Baker. “[The smell] is distinctive.”

Billings admitted she “had a really big drug habit” and had used narcotics for about five years, but insisted she never used drugs in front of her daughter, Casey Baker testified.

When speaking with Casey Baker, Kile allegedly confessed ownership of a bag that contained certain items authorities believe were used in producing meth. That bag was found by officers in a shed nearby the home.

The investigator testified the bag had been hidden behind some sort of object, possibly a water heater, in the shed.

“[Kile] basically stated that bag was his,” said Casey Baker, “that he cooked whenever he had [pseudoephedrine] pills, but he never cooked around his daughter.”

Graves testified that several firearms were found in the same room as the child, though he couldn’t initially recall where the guns were specifically located. He later told Garcia he believed one gun might have been under the bed and two were in a closet.

The 3-year-old girl stayed with Billings until the girl’s grandmother arrived and took custody of her.

But Garcia argued officers never found a meth lab in the home, and that all the components logged into evidence – cold packs, coffee filters, digital scales, Coleman fuel and other items – can be legally purchased and used for other things. He also pointed out that no pseudoephedrine was logged in as evidence.

“Law enforcement did not find the residual liquid, the unused [plastic] bottle, things to make this methamphetamine,” said Garcia. “My clients did not do this.”

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Criminalist Chris Boydstun told jurors he tested several items submitted to him by Casey Baker, and those items tested positive for methamphetamine.

Garcia questioned the OSBI’s method of testing the items and the agency’s procedure to care for and repair testing mechanisms, and asked Boydstun if the agency’s procedures are “infallible.”

Boydstun explained the process and procedure used by the state, and told Garcia the instruments used for the testing are “widely used – pretty much the standard for drug analysis.”

The state rested its case shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday. Garcia then called Debbie Duncan, Kile’s aunt and the owner of the home, to testify. Duncan told jurors the house had belonged to her parents, and she took ownership in May 2010 when her father died.

She said several people lived in the home at various times after her father’s death, until Kile and Billings moved in. They, and the others who occasionally stayed at the home, were doing various work, including cleanup of mold.

Duncan was called to the home the day authorities arrested Billings and Kile, and told jurors the home didn’t smell “much differently” than it normally did. She said there might have been added smells associated with cleaning up the home.

The trial was set to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in front of District Judge Darrell Shepherd. After closing arguments, jurors are expected to begin their deliberations.

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What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
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