By VAN HOLLAND
After finding the first methamphetamine lab in Edgecombe County December 5, law enforcement officers got satisfaction Wednesday when one of the suspects was found guilty in Superior Court of manufacturing and possessing the precursors to make the drug.
An Edgecombe County jury found 49-year old Jerry Harold Coffield, Jr. guilty of two felonies that stemmed from an incident where law enforcement found the working methamphetamine lab in Coffield's back yard.
The jury found Coffield guilty of possessing a methamphetamine precursor and manufacturing methamphetamine. The jury found him not guilty of possessing a firearm by a felon.
Superior Court Judge Walter Godwin sentenced Coffield to 17 to 30 months for possessing the methamphetamine precursor and at the expiration of that sentence Godwin ordered Coffield to serve 77 to 105 months for manufacturing methamphetamine. Coffield will serve at least seven years and nine months for the convictions, but could serve as much as 11 years and two months.
His son, 25-year old Heath Braxton Coffield, took a plea bargain in the case March 26. He pled guilty to possession and distribution of methamphetamine precursor and possession of precursor with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
Heath Coffield was sentenced to a total of four years, seven months and 25 days. He received 10 to 21 months for possession of the precursor with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine and was sentenced to 21 to 35 months for possession and distribution of methamphetamine precursor. According to the Department of Corrections website, Heath Coffield will be released from prison as early as June 27, 2015.
Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight said he was pleased with the outcome of the trial and said he was pleased with the amount of time the Coffields received.
"I believe the sentences that both suspects received were appropriate ," Knight said. "My guys did a great job in gathering information about the meth lab. They did a good job in questioning the suspects and finding out where they had the lab set up and followed protocol to have it removed from the residence."
A traffic stop on December 5 led investigators to the Coffield's residence at 3093 U.S. 64 Alternate. Officers pulled Jerry Coffield's truck over near 64-bypass exit ramp off of Highway 258 in Tarboro and found evidence that meth had been smoked in the vehicle. A third suspect in the case, 24-year old Chelsea Pelliter and her 2-year old child were in the vehicle.
After officers began questioning the suspects they told law enforcement about a working methamphetamine lab at the Coffield's residence. Law enforcement contacted the State Bureau of Investigations and had then come to the residence and dismantle the lab. Among the items seized from the building were, methamphetamine, precursors used to make methamphetamine and other paraphernalia.
Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive schedule II stimulant, which means it has a high potential for abuse. It affects the central nervous system. The drug is easily made in clandestine laboratories with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. People who use the drug may stay awake for three to four days at the time. Methamphetamine is commonly known as ice, speed or meth.