Sentencing: Indiana Judge Compares Meth Cook to a Terrorist, Gives Him 30 Years 11/25/05

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The first man convicted of running a home meth lab in Indiana's Delaware County (Muncie) has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by a judge who compared him to a terrorist. Kevin Burgess, 30, pleaded guilty this fall to manufacturing meth, a felony carrying a possible 50-year sentence, but 30 years was the maximum allowable under his plea agreement. And that's what he got from a judge determined "to send a message."

Circuit Court 4 Judge John Feick told Burgess during a sentencing hearing last week that he would get the maximum possible sentence because he posed such a threat to the community. Had his meth lab exploded, the judge said, Burgess could have killed police, firefighters, and his own three-year-old son, who lived in the house above the lab. In fact, the lab did not explode and no one was injured.

"When you manufacture this, you are almost a terrorist," Feick told Burgess.

Local prosecutors were happy with the sentence. "It set the tone for what we're going to tolerate," Deputy Prosecutor Diane Frye told the Muncie Star Press. "We want to make a statement that we don't want people cooking up meth."

Indiana reported some 670 meth labs busted last year, three of them in Delaware County.

A judge calling a drug offender a terrorist is bad enough, but at least Burgess wasn't actually charged with terrorism for cooking meth. That's what happened to 10 defendants in North Carolina in 2003 when an overzealous local prosecutor described their labs as "weapons of mass destruction" and attempted to charge them under state terrorism statutes. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed, the prosecutor was overruled, and the charges were dropped a few weeks later.

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Issue #412 -- 11/25/05

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Feature: San Francisco Regulates Medical Marijuana Dispensaries | Europe: Dutch Parliament Ponders Experiment in "Legal" Coffeeshop Supply | The Prohibition Debate: Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Sparks Controversy with Call for Look at Drug Decriminalization | Prohibition and Violence: California Dispensary/Grower Robberies Claim First Fatality | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Law Enforcement: Austin Police Chief Fires Cop Who Killed Daniel Rocha | Sentencing: Rhode Island Federal Judges Not Waiting for Congress to Fix Crack-Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparities | Sentencing: Indiana Judge Compares Meth Cook to a Terrorist, Gives Him 30 Years | Medical Marijuana: Arkansas, Wisconsin Legislatures Hold Hearings | Latin America: Colombia to Suspend Aerial Fumigation Along Border With Ecuador | Web Scan: EMCDDA, Cato on Mexico, Jews and Medical Marijuana | Job Opportunity: Operations and Technology Coordinator, Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, DC Area | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar


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