published Thursday, May 26th, 2011

East Ridge man convicted on meth charges

As Gregory Alan Mercer walked out of U.S. District Court on Wednesday, he waved briefly to his mother, who held back tears until he’d stepped through the doorway.

Nancy Mercer will see her 41-year-old son again at his June 30 sentencing hearing, where he faces 10 years or more in prison after being convicted on federal methamphetamine charges

Mercer faced a four-count indictment. After a three-day trial, he was found guilty Wednesday of conspiracy to make and distribute meth and conspiracy to possess meth.

The jury found Mercer not guilty of attempting to make meth and possessing chemicals and equipment to make meth.

Mercer’s attorney, Mitchell Bryant, said his client was upset at the verdict but understood why he was found guilty.

“Fortunately, he’s off drugs now and doing better personally,” Bryant said.

Throughout the trial, Bryant contended that Mercer was a meth addict who only made and traded for the drug to fuel his addiction, not a “drug kingpin” as the prosecution claimed.

Mercer attempted to plead guilty before the trial began Monday, but Chief Judge Curtis Collier would not accept it because Mercer had changed his plea before.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Woods, who prosecuted the case, argued that Mercer not only cooked and used meth but facilitated others’ use of the drug and made available his garage business on U.S. Highway 41 from 2006 until 2009 for using and making meth.

“The jury reached the right verdict and justice was served,” Woods said. “It’s a good day for the community.”

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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