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Woman receives prison time for meth lab bust

Originally published: Mar. 14, 2013
Last modified: Mar. 14, 2013

Jesse Campbell

The attorney of a local woman charged in connection to the manufacturing of methamphetamine that followed an August 2011 lab explosion said her client has learned firsthand the dangers of the drug. 

Amanda Pennington pleaded guilty to manufacturing meth and felony conspiracy related charges in Ashe County Superior Court Monday afternoon. 

As part of a plea agreement, Pennington was sentenced to a minimum of 44 months and a maximum of 62 months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections. 

Pennington’s charges originated as the result of a meth lab explosion at 645 Tom Fowler Road in Crumpler in August 2011. 

According to the prosecution, 39-year-old Steven Lee of Crumpler came into the emergency room of Ashe Memorial Hospital on the night of the lab explosion with second and third degree burns. 

Lee told nurses he sustained the burns when his portable lab, also known as the “shake and bake” method, caught on fire, according to testimony. 

Lee’s father later gave authorities permission to search the residence on Tom Fowler Road. 

When officers searched the residence, they found items consistent with a “shake and bake” lab, said prosecutors led by District Attorney Tom Horner. 

They also found lithium batteries and pseudoephedrine, a prominent precursor in the drug. 

A meth abatement unit was soon brought in to remove the toxins from the single wide mobile home where Lee, Pennington and other codefendants lived. 

Pennington was not harmed in the blast, but it did point authorities to prompt an immediate investigation at the residence. This led to her arrest, according to courtroom testimony. 

Pennington later admitted to authorities that she purchased the pseudoephedrine, along with other substances used in making meth, from 10 separate pharmacies across the region.

In exchange, Pennington was allowed to stay at the residence and support her habit, allege the defense. 

Pennington’s attorney said she has come a long way since her arrest. 

At that time, Pennington was less than 90 pounds and had lost all of her teeth due to using meth, according to testimony. 

Pennington said she wants to obtain her GED and work toward reuniting with her two children after receiving drug treatment.

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.