Couple plead not guilty to meth charges
A Libby couple entered not-guilty pleas Monday to charges of operating a methamphetamine lab at their home at 3502 U.S. Highway 2 S.
Ricky and Sabrina Graves, both 48, are each facing two counts of operating a clandestine drug lab along with one count of felony drug possession and two counts of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Combined, the charges carry maximum sentences of more than 85 years.
According to court documents, local law enforcement officers received information that the Graveses had been purchasing large amounts of pseudoephedrine tablets and matches — two of the main ingredients in methamphetamine — as far back as December 2004. Starting in February 2006 and continuing through early May, detectives received several additional tips that Ricky and Sabrina Graves were buying more pseudoephedrine, matches and other items used in methamphetamine production at area businesses. An informant also provided a tip that the couple had methamphetamine for sale.
Officers executed a search warrant at the Graves residence on May 9, and according to an affidavit filed in district court found numerous items of drug paraphernalia — including glass pipes with visible methamphetamine residue — along with various chemicals used in methamphetamine production. In bags of garbage in a shed, officers found numerous items associated with methamphetamine production, including rags and paper towels stained with iodine and matchbook striker plates that had been scraped of phosphorous, the affidavit contends.
Bond was set at $100,000 for both defendants. Represented by court-appointed attorney Ann German, Sabrina Graves asked to be released on her own recognizance. She testified that she has lived in Libby all her life and has family living nearby, including a 29-year-old son. She said she has no criminal record and lives on Social Security disability income that she would lose if incarcerated for more than 30 days. She testified that she suffers from a back injury for which she expects to undergo surgery in the near future and that the injury is aggravated by conditions in the jail.
County Attorney Bernie Cassidy and Deputy County Attorney Bob Slomski offered no objection, and Judge Michael Prezeau agreed to the request with the conditions that she obtain a chemical dependency evaluation and keep her attorney advised as to her whereabouts.
"I'm giving you the rope with which you can hang yourself," he said. "If you have a drug problem, this is dangerous territory."
Ricky Graves, through court-appointed attorney John Putikka, also asked for release on his own recognizance. Slomski indicated that the state opposed the request, and Prezeau said he would schedule a hearing on the issue.