A cramped South Hall trailer where three young children lived with their parents also was home to a toxic methamphetamine lab, a jury determined Thursday.
Following a 10-day trial in Hall County Superior Court, Donald Jason Passmore and the mother of his three children, Patricia Nicole Hall, were convicted along with roommate Kristi Shawn Gooch of manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of children.
Some 20 supporters of the defendants sat in the courtroom gallery to hear the jury’s verdict, which came after about six hours of deliberations. Passmore, 30, Hall, 26, and Gooch, 25, face five to 20 years on three separate manufacturing convictions each when they are sentenced today by Judge C. Andrew Fuller. Passmore also was convicted of criminal attempt to traffic in
methamphetamine, which carries a sentence of five to 30 years.
According to court testimony, on the night of Oct. 4, 2007, an agent with the Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad arrived at the trailer on Bald Eagle Trail off Calvary Church Road with a warrant, but didn’t expect to find a meth lab.
"The agent was looking for methamphetamine and Mr. Passmore," Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Burton told the jury in her closing argument Wednesday. "He found both, and a whole lot more."
Items known to be used for making meth were found throughout the house, according to court testimony. Matchbook strike plates were in Passmore and Hall’s bedroom. Rock salt and camping fuel was found in laundry room. In an unoccupied bedroom, officers found lye, a glass jug of muriatic acid, iodine, a hot plate, two microwaves and liquefied ephedrine. A spoon containing methamphetamine residue was found in Gooch’s room, according to testimony.
Trash bags outside the trailer contained empty camping fuel canisters, an ephedrine box and empty bottles of rubbing alcohol.
Passmore and Hall’s 2-year-old son and 3-month-old daughter were in the trailer at the time, as well as Gooch’s 2-year-old daughter. They were placed in the care of relatives.
While the toddlers were not in the so-called "lab room" during the raid, children’s belongings were found there, according to court testimony.
No testimony was given as to how much meth might have been produced in the trailer. The prosecutor acknowledged in her closing argument that "this certainly isn’t a super lab."
But authorities contended that meth was being made to be sold. No significant quantities of meth were found in the trailer, and the jury acquitted the defendants of trafficking charges.
A hazardous materials crew from South Carolina was contracted through the Drug Enforcement Administration to clean up the trailer. Authorities are uncertain how long meth was made at the location. Gooch lived at the trailer for about a year and Passmore and Hall were there for three months prior to the arrests.
In a show of support, family members and friends of the defendants filled rows of the gallery during the trial. Burton referred to them during her closing when arguing to the jury that no drug crimes are victimless.
"They are suffering because of these defendants’ poor choices," she said.