MARLINTON – Despite pleading not guilty he operated or attempted to operate a meth lab in Kanawha County, a St. Albans man has admitted to his involvement on a similar charge in Pocahontas County.

On April 3, Jody Ray Johnson appeared before Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene C. Berger to answer to the six-count indictment filed against him by the grand jury. According to the indictment, Johnson, 30, is charged with two counts each of conspiracy to operate a clandestine laboratory and exposing children to methamphetamines on March 24, 2007, and operating a clandestine laboratory on Oct 6, 2006.

At his arraignment, Johnson pled not guilty to the charges. After Johnson entered his plea and waived his right to speedy trial, his court-appointed attorney, Dennis Bailey, requested that Johnson be permitted to remain on the $6,000 bond he posted on May 6.

Along with granting the request, Berger set Johnson's trial date for July 15.

However, Johnson, who appeared at the arraignment wearing an orange jumpsuit, did not walk out of the courtroom a free man. It was later learned he was in the custody of the state Regional Jail Authority following his conviction, and pending sentencing, on a charge he operated a meth lab 150 miles away in Marlinton.

Two others indicted

According to court records, Johnson was indicted by the Pocahontas grand jury on Dec. 4 on a single charge of operating a clandestine lab. The charge stemmed from the discovery of methamphetamines West Virginia State Police made at the home of Mary K. Cyrus on Nov. 10.

Both Cyrus, and her son, Shawn W. Buzzard, were also indicted on Dec. 4.

Court records show that, with the assistance of his court-appointed attorney, Pocahontas County Public Defender Richard H. Lorensen, Johnson on March 28 plead guilty to a felony charge of information of attempting to operate a clandestine lab. In exchange for his guilty plea, Pocahontas County Prosecutor Walt W. Weiford agreed to dismiss the operation charge against Johnson as alleged in the Dec. 4 indictment.

Johnson's guilty plea in Pocahontas County came one week after he was indicted by the Kanawha grand jury.

Following his arraignment in Kanawha County, Johnson was eventually returned to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington to await sentencing in the Pocahontas case. According to Weiford, on April 9 Johnson was given an indeterminate sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison.

Pending the outcome of the case against him in Kanawha County, Weiford said Johnson will remain in the custody of the Regional Jail Authority.

Though the case is now closed against Johnson, it remains active against Cyrus and Buzzard, Weiford said. At her arraignment on Dec. 6, Cyrus, 53, pled not guilty to the charge she operated a meth lab.

Originally, her trial was scheduled for March 19, but has since been moved to an undetermined date in June, Weiford said.

Buzzard, however, has yet to be arraigned on the charge. According to Weiford, despite their arrests of Cyrus and Johnson, State Police have not yet taken Buzzard, 33, into custody.

According to court records, like Cyrus and Johnson, a warrant was issued for Buzzard's arrest on Nov. 10 for operating the meth lab.

A second warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to appear at his Dec. 6. arraignment.

Pocahontas Circuit Court, Case No. 08-F-1(Johnson) and 07-F-23 (Cyrus and Buzzard)

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