Three co-defendants accused of having a methamphetamine lab in a Norwalk apartment appeared via closed circuit television for their bond hearings Monday in Norwalk Municipal Court.
James J. Arthur II, 29, of Galion, and Paul D. Prince, 33, of Mansfield, are charged with one count each of illegal manufacturing of meth, a first-degree felony punishable by three to 11 years in prison. Norwalk Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel said there were four adults and a 3-year-old boy there at the time of the meth lab fire Friday on Bouscay Avenue.
"I've never been in trouble before for anything," Prince told Judge John Ridge. "I'd like to get a lawyer."
Prince and Arthur don't appear to have any prior felony convictions, Christophel said. The court set their bonds at $100,000 each.
A third accomplice, Allen E. Mobberly, 32, of 37C Bouscay Ave., is father of the boy, police said. Witnesses told the Reflector they saw a woman, who apparently isn't the boy's mother, take the child from the burning apartment when he was only in his underwear.
"Mr. Mobberly is the person who had control of the apartment where the methamphetamine was being manufactured," Christophel told the judge.
Mobberly is charged with one count each of permitting drug abuse and endangering children. He must post a $30,000 total bond before being released from the Huron County Jail.
Norwalk Police Chief Dave Light has said the neighbors "were in more danger than they realized." He noted a boy complained of a "burning sensation" in his lungs after he played in the apartment where the fire was.
"He went over there to play with these idiots. He was there earlier in the day and the day before," Light said.
Police used a search warrant at 37C Bouscay Ave., where Arthur and Prince were living, Christophel said at Monday's hearing. Officers arrived about 4:55 p.m. Friday. Christophel said when officers entered the apartment, they "found an active meth lab."
(NOTE - To see photos of the meth lab raid and fire, click HERE.)
Police have said Prince, when fleeing the upstairs bedroom, admitted to knocking over some of the meth-related byproducts, which started the fire, which was contained to the bedroom. The contents in the room are a total loss.
The Huron County Public Defender's Office will be representing Arthur. The court appointed Paul Dolce to Prince's case while Tom Freeman was assigned to defend Mobberly.
Each of the defendants are prohibited from touching, possessing or using a drug of abuse as a condition of their bonds.
Their preliminary hearings are scheduled for Monday. The defendants could waive their right to have the state present evidence and have the case transferred to Huron County Common Pleas Court for the consideration of a grand jury indictment.