By Kirby Haskins
Advocate staff writer
A Mt. Sterling man accused of operating a Winn Street meth lab was convicted in Montgomery County Circuit Court last week.
Following a trial that spanned three days, a jury found Christopher Douglas Banks guilty of manufacturing methamphetamine.
Banks had been charged with operating a meth lab at his residence at 207 Winn St. following a joint investigation by the Mt. Sterling Police Department and the Winchester Police Department. On Nov. 27, 2007, authorities searched the home and reportedly found the drug-making operation on the property. Banks and three other individuals were arrested at the residence and two children were also reportedly found in the home by police.
Last week’s trial included testimony of a police informant, Brad Isaacs, who first discovered the lab and reported it to authorities, as well as testimony from Kentucky State Police Det. Bret Kirkland who detailed what meth-making products investigators discovered at the Winn Street Street home.
Mt. Sterling Police Capt. David Charles said the jury made its point known by delivering a guilty verdict.
“I think it was a just verdict,” Charles said. “ And I think the jury sent a message that it will not tolerate this kind of behavior in our community.”
The jury recommended a sentence of 20 years in prison for the manufacturing meth charge, but Banks faces a total of 30 years as the jury also found him guilty on several additional charges. The jury also found Banks guilty of possession of marijuana and use/possession of drug paraphernalia. They recommended a one-year sentence for each to run concurrently with the recommended 20-year sentence.
Banks was also found guilty of two counts of controlled substance endangerment of a child, fourth degree. Jurors recommended a five-year sentence on each count, to run consecutively with the 20-year sentence.
Charles said he wasn’t surprised by the jury’s strong sentencing recommendations.
“I expected it,” Charles said. “It was an extremely strong case that warranted that decision.”
Banks’ conviction comes on the heels of three additional guilty pleas in the case. Prior to the start of the trial last week, Banks’ three co-defendants accepted plea deals.
Lisa Clukey, Tammy L. Stanfield and Gerald Wayne Mullis each entered guilty pleas to unlawful distribution of a meth precursor. The charge of manufacturing meth was dropped in each of their cases..
Clukey also plead guilty to two counts of fourth-degree controlled substance endangerment to a child. The same charges were dismissed in the cases of Mullis and Stanfield. In addition, Clukey plead guilty to two counts of first-degree possession of a controlled substance and one count of second-degree possession of a controlled substance.
Charges of unlawful possession of a meth precursor and a persistent felony offender charge were dismissed in Stanfield’s case.
Sentencing for all parties is scheduled for 11 a.m. June 30.
Mt. Sterling Advocate, Mt. Sterling, Kentucky