Upshur man facing meth-related charges

BUCKHANNON – A Buckhannon man is being held on a $25,000 cash-only bond after failing to appear Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on methamphetamine-related charges.

Michael Christopher Hinchman, 30, of 178 A Camden Ave., was arrested Oct. 25 and charged with one felony count of possession of a precursor to manufacture methamphetamine – a charge that dates back nearly a year to Dec. 1, 2012.

Hinchman had been scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in Upshur County Magistrate Court Wednesday, but when he failed to do so, a capias was issued and he was rearrested on the original charge the same day.

Magistrate Mike Coffman subsequently adjusted Hinchman’s bond from a $50,000 surety bond to a $25,000 cash-only bond, and Hinchman remained lodged in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail as of presstime.

According to the complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s office, a search warrant for Hinchman’s residence was executed Dec. 1, 2012, after officers with the Buckhannon Police Department allegedly detected an “odor similar to a clandestine laboratory” emanating from the home.

“The odor of an ether-type (sic) chemical permeated the entire house including the sleeping area of a child,” Patrolman 1st Class N.D. Caynor, the investigating officer, wrote in the complaint. Caynor allegedly observed a blender containing white powder on top of the refrigerator. When the substance was sent to the West Virginia State Police Crime Laboratory for testing, results indicated that the powder was pseudoephedrine “in a form that it is not distributed in, as it had been blended,” the complaint states. Caynor also reported finding “other controlled substances” inside the house, as well as a bottle “that appears to have been used in the manufacture of methamphetamine just outside the house.”

When asked why approximately 11 months had lapsed between the time the search warrant was executed and Hinchman’s Oct. 25 arrest, Buckhannon Chief of Police Matthew Gregory said the department had been waiting on definitive results before taking action.

“What held us up was we were waiting on results from the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab so we would be able to have more direction on where to go with this case,” Gregory explained Thursday. “The investigation was ongoing.”

The penalty for a conviction of possession of a precursor to methamphetamine is imprisonment for two to 10 years in a state penitentiary, a fine of up to $25,000 or both.

Contact Katie Kuba by email at Follow her on Twitter at IMT-Kuba.