Red Willow County Judge Cloyd Clark bound over to district court two McCook men charged with the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class III felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. According to testimony from Red Willow County Deputy Joe Koetter and Lt. Alan Kotschwar, the two men, David Paul Barris and Jeff Eugene Sprenkle, were "cooking meth" inside Barris's mini-van as they drove country roads northeast of McCook on the evening of March 11.
Koetter told Red Willow County Attorney Paul Wood the van ran a stop sign at the intersection of a gravel road and a blacktop road two miles north of McCook on East 11th and stopped in the road about 1/8 mile south of the intersection. The officers pulled up behind the van and turned on the light bar. Koetter said Barris walked back to the officers' cruiser as the officers were getting out; Deputy Tom Johnson walked to the passenger door of the van.
Koetter testified that Johnson suspected drugs as he smelled anhydrous ammonia. The men were read their rights and handcuffed.
The officers alerted Lt. Kotschwar who said there was a strong odor of anhydrous throughout the van, but particularly from a one-gallon blue water jug.
Johnson had told his fellow officers Sprenkle threw something out the window of the van as Johnson approached. The item was discovered to be an eight- to 10-inch piece of cornstalk partially covered with a white powdery substance.
Kotschwar testified there was white powdery residue on the edge of the blacktop and also in the blacktop in front of Sprenkle, who, according to Johnson's report, kept kicking at a white spot on the road.
Kotschwar said the officers "believed this stick to be a stir-stick for the process" of meth manufacture going on inside the insulated jug.
Kotschwar testified that Barris and Sprenkle wanted to talk to McCook police officer Kirk Bodeman, because "they were doing something for him."
Bodeman arrived, Kotschwar said, but denied the two were "working" for him, that he would never have (informants) make meth without a surveillance tape.
Items seized from the van included full and/or empty cardboard boxes and blister packs of suphedrine or ephedrine (an over-the-counter cold medicine), peeled and/or torn-apart lithium batteries, camp fuel (used as a rinsing agent, Kotschwar said, to separate the meth oil from left-over crushed-up cold tablets), neoprene-type black gloves and the contents of the water jug.
"Cooking" in the insulated jug was "a mushy substance with a liquid on the bottom," Kotschwar said. He testified that a three-stage pre-test turned blue, indicating the contents of the jug were methamphetamine.
Sprenkle's attorney, Stephen P. Herman, and Barris's attorney, Kevin Urbom, argued that because definitive test results have not returned from a lab yet, the state has insufficient evidence to charge their clients with manufacture of methamphetamine.
Judge Clark disagreed, explaining the state has indeed shown a crime has been committed and has probable cause to believe that Barris and Sprenkle had committed that crime.
Each was bound over to district court.
Clark declined to reduce bond for either defendant, despite Herman's contention that Sprenkle is not a violent person nor a flight risk because of family ties in McCook, and Urbom's plea that Barris be allowed to bond out on $250 cash and be reunited with his two minor children (now in his mother's care).
Wood told Clark that Sprenkle is pending sentencing on a drug-related charge in Kansas and has served time in the penitentiary already for statutory rape. Barris has no ties to Red Willow County, Wood said.
Clark continued Sprenkle's bond at 10 percent of $20,000 and Barris's bond at 10 percent of $10,000.
Both bonds had been reduced during an earlier hearing, Wood said, Sprenkle's from $100,000/10 percent and Barris's from $50,000/10 percent.
Each remains in jail.
No dates have been set for the mens' appearances in district court.