"Gary, I love you, but I gotta go," Tonya Warner told her boyfriend before running away from police officers during the investigation of an alleged mobile meth lab last week in Norton, West Virginia State Police Trooper 1st Class G.S. Deweese testified Friday.
At the preliminary hearing in Randolph County Magistrate Court, Deweese testified that Warner, 29, of Belington, tried to escape from him three times - once on foot and twice in a vehicle - after he discovered what he believed to be a mobile meth lab in a white van near Bob's Hotdogs. Deweese said he may have been "possibly run over, possibly killed," had Warner not eventually climbed out of the van and fled on foot.
Following the Aug. 28 incident, Warner and her boyfriend, Gary Loy, 39, also of Belington, were charged with child neglect, among other felonies after police discovered their 3- and 4-year-old children in the van.
During Friday's preliminary hearing, Randolph County Magistrate George "Mike" Riggleman found probable cause on all eight charges that have been brought against Warner - including fleeing in a vehicle.
Warner has been charged with two counts of child neglect causing injury; two counts of being an accessory before/after the fact; unlawful assault on an official; two counts of exposure of children to methamphetamine manufacturing; and fleeing in a vehicle.
Also during the hearing, Warner's attorney, Lori Gray, requested a bond modification from $100,000 cash only to $100,000 personal recognizance - a request Riggleman denied. Warner remained lodged in Tygart Valley Regional Jail as of press time Friday. The couple's two children are in the custody of Child Protective Services.
The charges against Warner stem from the Aug. 28 incident and an Aug. 18 criminal complaint accusing Warner of being an accessory before/after the fact to the manufacture of meth. Deweese filed the complaint upon determining Warner had allegedly been in the presence of Loy, despite a Belington police officer advising her that she could be arrested if she was found in Loy's presence after Aug. 4.
Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shannon Johnson called Sr. Trooper D.R. Wolford - a certified clandestine lab technician - to the stand Friday to testify as an expert witness. Wolford said that although what the lab was found in the white van Aug. 28 was not an active cook, but all the precursors (to making meth) were there, including lye, hydrogen peroxide and drain opener.
"They were not actively trying to cook meth," Wolford said, "but it had been cooked and (the lab) was actively causing gas and fumes to be put off. Once you start cooking, you can't just turn it off."
Despite Riggleman's ruling, Warner's attorney said the prosecution had failed to establish probable cause on any of the eight charges facing Warner.
"As for fleeing in a vehicle, Miss Warner didn't leave the scene at any time," Gray said. "As for exposing children to the manufacture of methamphetmine, you heard Trooper Wolford say there wasn't an active
cook happening at that location; and Troopers Wolford, Deweese and Corley said nothing that indicates what risks are associated with being exposed to methamphetamines; there was no medical expert testimony. As for unlawful assault (on an official), when Miss Warner backed (the van) up, Trooper Deweese said he was to the side of the van, not behind it."
Riggleman, however, wasn't convinced.
"Bond denied, probable cause found, it will be bound over to Circuit Court and the grand jury," he said.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.