Jury returns guilty verdict in drug trial

March 17, 2014

WAYNESBURG – A Cumberland Township man charged with several drug-related charges was found guilty Monday by a Greene County jury.

Jeffery Christopher Speer, 26, of 101 B. Crucible Road, Crucible, was found guilty of possession of heroin, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, endangering the welfare of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cumberland Township police officers found more than 200 heroin stamp bags while assisting Greene County Children and Youth Services April 24, at the residence Speer shared with his girlfriend, Melinda Lee Puckett, 23. Chief Craig Miller said his officers received an anonymous tip about illegal drug activity at the residence where CYS had an open investigation involving Speer and Puckett.

Miller testified he and a CYS caseworker were given permission by Puckett to enter the residence and Miller also said he was given permission to bring his K-9 into the home. Puckett later rescinded permission for the search and was taken into custody while a search warrant was obtained. While waiting for the warrant, Puckett advised Miller she had additional heroin on her person and removed seven stamp bags and a rolled dollar bill from her bra.

Officers located 197 empty stamp bags, a kit containing 63 stamp bags of heroin, snorting straws, rubber bands, scotch tape and $162.

Heroin stamp bags, some containing residue, were located inside their daughter’s bassinet, diaper bag, next to baby bottles in a rear bedroom, inside a box of crayons and in a basket of toys.

Miller said multiple bags were also located under couch cushions, on the couch and in other locations that were easily accessible to the infant child and Speer’s 3-year old son with whom he had a weekend visitation order.

During the search of the residence empty stamp bags also were also located on the headboard in the room shared by Puckett and Speer.

Puckett, who was sentenced to 6 to 23 1/2 months in jail following a guilty plea last week to similar drug charges, testified on Speer’s behalf, claiming Speer had no knowledge of her drug use or that she possessed and sold drugs.

Puckett said she would leave the trailer to purchase heroin when Speer was out but refused to answer who watched their then-3-month old daughter when she would leave.

She also refused to answer where she purchased the drugs or how much she made when she sold them. At one point Puckett suggested the drugs were not being purchased in Greene County.

Puckett testified each time she bought heroin it was in a brick heroin containing 50 stamp bags valued between $200 and $300. Assistant District Attorney John Friedman noted the going rate in Greene County is around $20 for a single stamp bag. Neither she nor Speer were employed and counted on Speer’s mother for their support in addition to receiving food stamps.

Judge William Nalitz remanded Speer into the custody of Greene County sheriff for an outstanding domestic relations contempt sentence and ordered a pre-sentence investigation be conducted for the drug conviction.

Speer’s attorney, Kevin Fryder, indicated he will file a motion to have the verdict overturned for what he called a “lack of evidence.” Fryder said there were no fingerprints or DNA linking his client to the drugs in the trailer and that Puckett testified he had no knowledge of the illegal activity.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

View More from this Author



blog comments powered by Disqus