published Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Users testify that defendant prepared drug with them

In the second day of a federal meth trial, cohorts of the 41-year-old defendant testified Tuesday that, over months and years, they brought supplies to him and traded meth for a space to cook the drug.

Defendant Gregory Alan Mercer faces four federal drug-related charges and prosecutors claim he possessed, manufactured and distributed methamphetamine between 2006 and 2009 from his garage business on U.S. Highway 41.

Closing arguments were made Tuesday afternoon, and the jury should get this case first thing this morning.

During testimony Tuesday, while questioning East Ridge police Detective Josh Creel about the investigation that led to Mercer’s arrest, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Woods drew a diagram connecting 11 co-defendants, in varying degrees, to Mercer.

Several times during witness testimony, Mercer leaned over to talk with his attorney, Mitchell Bryant.

Mercer attempted to plead guilty to some of the charges at the outset of the trial, but Chief U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier denied the plea because Mercer had previously entered pleas only to later change his mind.

Dustin Griffith testified that he cooked meth eight to 10 times with Mercer, making an average of 24 grams each time. He would then give 2 to 5 grams to Mercer as payment for using Mercer’s garage or apartment, depending on where they made the drug, he said.

Using Mercer’s business was helpful, Griffith explained, “because a lot of people don’t want you to cook around your [home] because of kids, neighbors.”

But Bryant disputed the amounts Griffith described, reading from a police interview shortly after Griffith’s arrest in which he said he made 10 to 15 grams at a time.

Amounts are key to the charges because an indictment against Mercer alleges he made 50 grams of meth and 500 grams of a mixture containing meth during the years of the alleged conspiracy.

Griffith pleaded guilty to meth-related charges in the case last September. Collier sentenced him to 14 years in prison.

But Griffith could have his sentenced lowered as a result of cooperating with prosecutors, according to a plea deal.

Mitchell highlighted the deal as he cross-examined Griffith and another meth user — Misty Barnes.

Barnes testified that she used meth with Mercer and her ex-boyfriend, Brad Dupree, also known as “Dope Fairy.” She testified that Dupree and Mercer made meth together and traded boxes of pseudoephedrine pills, a key ingredient in meth making, or money at least once a week for the drug over several months.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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