Stewarts’ meth charges heard in court Tuesday

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Mercer County Judge James G. Conway, Jr. found probable cause Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 18, 2011 in Mercer County Court at a joint first appearance hearing for James K. Stewart, 58 and Cindy L. Stewart, 54, of Keithsburg. Both are charged with a Class X felony -- aggravated unlawful participation in methamphetamine production, manufacturing less than 15 grams; and Class 1 felony  --  possession of anhydrous ammonia with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine.

Mercer County Sheriff’s investigator Dusty Terrill was sworn in and testified first, saying he was on duty on Sunday evening, Jan. 16, while Sheriff’s Doty was on duty and sent to the home of the couple, 901 S. 10th St., Keithsburg to arrest James Stewart on a Rock Island warrant for failure to pay. He noted that LEADS information on prior arrests warned that Stewart could possibly be “armed and dangerous.” It was also noted that the Stewart residence was within 1,000 feet of a church.

When Doty arrived, he said the garage door was open and he saw Jim inside the garage, stirring a pot of liquid. Doty noted “a strong amount of ammonia smell.” Terrill said this was a typical of a meth lab.

Officer Doty backed away from the residence and called for backup. He said Officers Doty and Unsworth approached the residence with a search warrant. The Stewarts signed their permission to search the residence. They were first given their Miranda rights.

Terrill testified that Jim Stewart admitted he used around 40 pseudoephedrine pills along with lithium battery components to produce two grams for the final product. He said that Cindy Stewart was involved with gathering up the lithium batteries and removing the pills from their packaging. The officers also discovered a scale in the basement and two packages of ziplock bags. Tubing and a funnel was also found in the area. Deputy Doty called for the Meth Resonse Team to clean up and secure the residence.

Judge Conway said “this is more than enough evidence” to hold the pair to answer to the charges. The judge told the two defendants they were entitled to a more formal preliminary hearing in regards to the charges and at that point would be able to respond either “guilty” or “not guilty.”

Temporary counsel was named for Jim Stewart – Public Defender Dan Dalton and Attorney Katherine Drummond, was appointed as temporary counsel for Cindy Stewart.

Probation head Vickie Hansen also testified that Jim Stewart had a prior drug conviction in 2010 in Warren County, as well as misdemeanor convictions and that he was currently on a two years probation from there, with courtesy probation services being provided in Mercer County.

The judge set bond at $100,000 for Jim Stewart and $75,000, 10 percent to apply. There was no prior criminal history revealed for Cindy during the first appearance hearing. Judge Conway also stipulated that if the defendants did bond out, they could be ordered to be randomly tested for drugs or alcohol at their own cost, if ordered by any law enforcement or probation employee.

The next hearing set for the Stewarts is at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1 for review of attorney status, arraignment and bail review.