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Meth cases go to grand jury

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A grand jury will consider the cases of three people accused of having a methamphetamine lab in a home where a 6-year-old girl lived after a judge ruled there were reasonable grounds for the charges.

The Franklin County Sheriffs Office obtained a search warrant March 5 for 184 Sunset Drive after receiving a tip that there was an active methamphetamine lab in the basement of the residence.

Upon searching the home, deputies discovered evidence of a methamphetamine lab and took Deborah Tandy, James Sams and James Lunsford into custody.

The child was taken into protective custody.

Tandy, 49, is charged with possession of methamphetamine, possessing drug paraphernalia, first-degree wanton endangerment, manufacturing methamphetamine and controlled substance endangerment to a child.

Lunsford, 31, is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and controlled substance endangerment to a child.

Sams, 37, was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and controlled substance endangerment to a child. He is also a registered sex offender for third-degree rape of a 14-year-old.

Public defenders Kristin Gonzalez and Andrew Bowker argued Tuesday in Franklin District Court that there was no probable cause to charge them.

Deputy Jeff Farmer testified in court about the investigation. He said while he was driving to the house last week to execute the search warrant, the trio and the girl left and went to McDonalds.

The sheriffs office had surveillance on the house, so Farmer went to McDonalds hoping they would return home afterward, he said.

However, they continued on Versailles Road to U.S. 460, turned right and headed toward Georgetown.

Farmer said at this point he had been notified deputies had entered the house and discovered evidence of a methamphetamine lab, so he pulled them over.

Bowker, who represented Lunsford and Sams for the hearing, and Gonzalez, who represented Tandy, both pointed out that Farmer arrested all three even though he did not have an arrest warrant at that time.

Farmer confirmed and said he needed to stop them from leaving, so that was the best solution.

Upon searching the truck they were driving, Farmer said he found four unmarked pill bottles two containing what appeared to be meth in the glove box, as well as batteries and vouchers for Sudafed, both commonly used in making methamphetamine.

Kentucky State Police handled the cleanup, and they are still awaiting lab results to determine if what they seized was methamphetamine.

Farmer said Lunsford allegedly told him he knew methamphetamine was being made in the basement but he never personally helped.

Farmer also said he spoke with Tandy who said, Im glad you busted them, without specifying names.

She told me she had no idea how dangerous methamphetamine was, Farmer said.

The statements Tandy and Lunsford allegedly made were not recorded.

During questioning by Bowker and Gonzalez, Farmer said it had been an ongoing investigation and Sams had been the target not Lunsford or Tandy.

Bowker argued that probable cause may have been found if Kentucky State Police had been in court for the hearing, but without their testimony or lab results, theres not enough proof for the charges.

Deputy Farmer is speculating and guessing, Bowker said. We just dont know what was down there.

He also said there was no evidence of Lunsfords involvement he happened to be staying there with Tandy, who he was dating.

Gonzalez also argued that there was no evidence proving Tandys involvement.

Nobody has involved her in this other than that she lives there, Gonzalez said.

Assistant County Attorney Chris Broaddus argued that because Farmer visually recognized the traces of methamphetamine, could smell it and had admissions from two of the defendants that there was probable cause.

All three of them knew what was going on in there, Broaddus said.

Franklin District Judge Chris Olds ruled there was sufficient probable cause for all three cases, which will now be presented to a grand jury.

Olds also denied lowering the bonds currently set for all three Sams is held on $60,000, Tandys bond is $62,200 and Lunsfords bond is $50,000.

All three are lodged at Franklin County Regional Jail.