Sufficient evidence found in trial for couple accused of producing meth
The felony trial against Florida couple David and Kim Dulaney for charges of manufacturing methamphetamine will move forward, a judge ruled Monday.
The Dulaneys had been arrested June 19 at the Relax Inn in Dickinson after they were found with what authorities determined to be a "one-pot" meth lab.
At a preliminary hearing Monday, Stark County Judge Dann Greenwood ruled that the state has sufficient evidence to go ahead with charges.
The Delaneys on Monday pleaded not guilty to the charges and remain in custody, despite requests for bond reduction hearings. Bond is set at $20,000 for each.
Dickinson Police officers Lauren Asheim and Justin Fridrich testified that around 5 p.m. on June 19 they responded to a report of a meth lab at the Relax Inn at the 500 block of West 12th Street.
They had been alerted by the hotel manager, who had reported finding a cooler containing materials used to make meth.
At the motel, the two officers made contact with the Dulaneys in the hall outside of their room. David was carrying a cooler, which he set down when asked.
"I looked in the cooler, just a little bit," Asheim said. "There was a strong odor of chemicals, so I closed it and we detained them."
She told Kim's lawyer, Kevin McCabe, and David's lawyer, Matthew Arthurs, that "given the circumstances" and reports from the hotel manager that he had already looked in the cooler, police did not obtain a warrant or ask for permission before opening the cooler.
Asheim said she didn't see meth inside, but "I've been a cop for three-and-a-half years, and I know what meth smells like."
David Wallace, a two-year veteran of the Southwest Narcotics Task Force, said there were a number of items inside the cooler "that concerned us."
The cooler contained lithium batteries, a box of Claritin medicine, a hydrogen gas generator, coffee filters and fuel oil, according to court records. Also found was a bottle of liquid organic solvent containing meth.
"Taken in totality, what was contained within the cooler was a one-pot meth lab," he said.
The Dulaneys' defense argued that the evidence did not explicitly link the defendants to the alleged crime.
"There might a very strong case here for possession of methamphetamine, but just having random trash inside a cooler does not necessarily mean these people are manufacturing methamphetamine," Arthurs said.
McCabe argued that there was no testimony showing Kim had been involved at all, but rather she may have been "a victim of circumstances."
Greenwood acknowledged that the court would prefer to have all of the evidence to support the implications "were more clear than perhaps presented," but that he would have to "turn a blind eye to practical realities not to conclude that there's probable cause" to support the case.
A further trial has not been scheduled.