Meth suspects ask for change to their charges

John Gray

John Gray

CONYERS -- The two men involved in the truck that police stopped with toxic methamphetamine-making ingredients last month asked for a change in their charges, claiming they were not making meth.

John David Gray, 39, of 2060 Christian Circle, Conyers, and Terry Lynn Johnson, 50, of 14060 Brown Bridge Road, Covington, appeared before Rockdale County Chief Magistrate Judge Clarence Horne on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing to decide if the case should be bound over to a grand jury for indictment.

Gray and Johnson were arrested Oct. 29 by Conyers Police after a traffic stop where it was discovered that the Ford Ranger pickup they were driving contained materials to make methamphetamine. The danger of the materials closed down part of Olde Town, including Pine Street Elementary School.

Both men were charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacturing of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, forgery and possession of drug-related objects. Gray had the additional charge of driving with a brake light out.

During the traffic stop, about 15 trash bags were in the bed of the truck where police found smoking pipes and meth. Police found some 20 to 30 AA batteries scattered about the truck, along with several ammonia-based cleaning chemicals in the back of the bed of the truck.

Gray, the driver, told police the cleaning supplies were for his move from one house to another, according to Officer Chase Bagwell.

Bagwell testified that ammonia and lithium, often stripped from batteries, are commonly used for making meth.

The bottom on the truck had two or three butane bottles with a "man-made apparatus around them ... which led us to believe they were actively cooking methamphetamine, based on the chemicals that were found and the manner in which they were found in," Bagwell said.

At least half a pound of meth was recovered from the truck.

Public Defender Charles Gasner defended Gray and questioned Gray's charge of manufacturing methamphetamine, saying police did not find the batteries already stripped of lithium.

Gasner also pointed to the separation of the bed of the truck from the cab where his client was seated. Gasner also brought up the officer's testimony that Sudafed is a needed ingredient in a "shake and bake" method of making meth.

"Based on what we've heard today, there is no rolling meth lab here and there is no manufacture of methamphetamine going on within this truck," Gasner said. "There's no Sudafed here. Sudafed is the primary ingredient that would be necessary to manufacture methamphetamine on the go."

Assistant District Attorney Blair Lawhon argued that the Sudafed could have been already used up. She said the drugs and the other ingredients found in the car were enough for probable cause.

Local attorney Edgar Calloway defended Johnson and said his client did not know anything about the drugs in the bed of the truck. Johnson was only getting a ride to his girlfriend's house, according to Calloway.

Lawhon said only one of the 15 bags in the bed of the truck belonged to Johnson.

"So he can't be this so-called innocent bystander who just gets in this truck to get a ride to his girlfriend's house at 3 a.m.," Lawhon told the judge.

Police also found about 20 $1 bleached bills where the ink had been stripped off and there were ink cartridges. Counterfeit $20 dollar bills were also recovered.

The judge ultimately ruled that there was enough probable cause for the case to go to the grand jury.