County judge drops drug charge

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Lincoln County drug charge against a Lawrence County man hasbeen dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, but an official says thecounty will continue to press forward with the charge.

Related drug charges in Lawrence County against Johnny Speightswere bound over to the ground jury Tuesday.

Lincoln County Justice Court Judge Judy Case Martin dismissedthe conspiracy charge against Speights, 50, of 85 Virginia SpeightsLane, last week during a preliminary hearing.

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However, Lincoln County Sheriff Wiley Calcote said hisdepartment and the county prosecutor, Brady Kellems, still intendto present the charge to the grand jury when it convenes inJuly.

“I was very unhappy with (the judge’s ruling),” Calcote said.”It will still be presented to the grand jury.”

Kellems was unavailable for comment both Tuesday and thismorning.

Suspects do not have to be held by a judge in order to bepresented to the grand jury. Which cases go before the grand jury,and when, is determined by the district attorney.

Attorney Carlisle Henderson, who represents Speights, saidpreliminary hearings are primarily held to ensure the judge thatthere was probable cause for the arrest and to give the defense thefacts concerning the case.

“The preliminary hearing is not a trial. The court does not hearall the facts,” he said. “The reason this charge was dropped was alack of jurisdiction so there was no probable cause. I do notexpect this to go to the grand jury.”

Speights was in court again Tuesday for a preliminary hearing onrelated charges in Lawrence County.

He is charged with possession of a controlled substance(methamphetamine) and possession of precursor chemicals with intentto manufacture meth after officers from several law enforcementagencies conducted a raid on his Lawrence County home May 3.

During the search, Speights and his live-in girlfriend, RobinCalcote Rogers, 32, were found to possess a “large amount” of meth,according to Lawrence County Sheriff Joel Thames. A laboratory andthe necessary precursor chemicals to manufacture meth were alsofound on the property. Rogers faces the same charges.

The Lawrence County charges were bound over to the grand jury,which convenes in December. In the meantime, Speights and Rogershave been released from the jail on separate $40,000 bonds.

“This does not indicate any guilt in the matter,” Hendersonsaid. “It only confirms probable cause for the arrest.”