The case of a Belington man charged with child neglect after state police discovered a mobile meth lab in a van in Norton last week was bound over to Randolph County Circuit Court Thursday.
During a preliminary hearing, Randolph County Magistrate George "Mike" Riggleman found probable cause on all seven charges lodged against Gary Loy, 39.
Loy is charged with two counts of exposure of children to methamphetamine; unlawful assault on an official; operating a clandestine lab; two counts of child neglect; and operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug lab, all felonies.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
Gary Loy, 39, watches as his attorney, Dwight Hall, speaks during Randolph County Magistrate Court on Thursday. Loy, a resident of Belington, is facing seven different charges stemming from the discovery of a mobile meth lab last week.
Also during the hearing, Loy's attorney, Dwight Hall, asked for a bond modification from $150,000 cash only to $150,000 cash or surety.
Riggleman scoffed at Hall's request.
"History has already shown us that Mr. Loy's ability to be bonded out didn't work," Riggleman said, referencing a previous bond agreement Loy violated. "When assessing bond, it is to secure the defendant to be in court and to protect the public safety. History has shown us that one, he (Loy) didn't show up for court and two, if found guilty of these charges he was endangering the public.
"The motion to modify bond is denied, this court has found probable cause and this hearing is closed," Riggleman declared, exiting the courtroom.
"What am I supposed to do now, man?" Loy asked his attorney before police officers ordered him to be removed from the courtroom.
Loy remained lodged in Tygart Valley Regional Jail as of press time Thursday evening.
The charges against Loy stem from two separate incidents - the most recent of which took place Aug. 28 near a popular hot dog vendor in Norton. Trooper 1st Class G.S. Deweese with the Elkins detachment of West Virginia State Police responded to a be-on-the-lookout call around 2 p.m. for Loy, who had three active felony warrants in Barbour County and one active felony warrant from Randolph County, according to previous reports. Deweese found Loy, his girlfriend, Tonya Warner, 29, also of Belington, and their 3- and 4-year-old children - along with a "shake-and-bake" mobile meth lab - in a white van in the parking lot in front of Bob's Hotdogs.
Child Protective Services took custody of the two children following the incident. Their mother, Warner, also was arrested and is currently in Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $100,000 bond.
Deweese also testified Thursday that on July 8, he received an anonymous tip that Loy, Warner and their children were in the Elkins Walgreen's parking lot. At the time, Loy had three active felony warrants through the Belington Police Department for delivery of a controlled substance. Police believed he was making meth in Barbour County and transporting it to Randolph County, Deweese said.
Deweese said he saw Loy push a shopping cart to a trashcan at the front of Walgreen's and begin to throw away items. When he examined a bag Loy had discarded, Deweese said he saw "a pop bottle that appeared to have nitrate in it" and "several ingredients used to produce meth." Deweese said when a strong ammonia smell emerged from the bag, he called Sr. Trooper D.R. Wolford to the scene, who determined that the contents were once part of an active meth lab. Deweese said he isn't an expert in the identification of meth labs.
Also on Thursday, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shannon Johnson called Trooper 1st Class K.A. Corley to the witness stand to testify about the risk meth manufacturing poses to children.
"There are a lot of flammable liquids, and it can blow up if not done correctly," Corley said. "Then, you're talking about exposure to a lot of (chemicals). It can go from very little (damage) up to the point of death."
Johnson told Riggleman she believes the state had demonstrated probable cause on all charges, but Hall took issue with the prosecution's failure to provide expert testimony.
"Both these troopers (Corley and Deweese) admit they're not experts in meth labs," Hall said. "There's been no expert testimony. The state hasn't met its burden of proof."
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.