published Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Meigs man sentenced to 10 years for making meth

A 45-year-old Meigs County, Tenn., man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison on federal charges of methamphetamine manufacture.

U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice sentenced Lee Roy Fairbanks to the low end of the 10- to 12-year range and ordered him to attend 500 hours of substance abuse counseling in prison.

On April 16, 2012, Meigs County Sheriff's Office Detective Wayne Irwin spotted Betty Smith's green Ford Focus after receiving tips that the vehicle contained a mobile meth lab.

Smith went inside the house of Chucky Letner. Letner came outside and told Irwin that Smith was in the house. Smith then came out and told Irwin there were meth labs inside the car.

Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force agents had information that Fairbanks had bought 4 grams of pseudoephedrine days before the meth labs were discovered.

On April 18, agents received information that Fairbanks was making meth at Letner's home.

When they arrived, agents heard loud noises inside and saw Fairbanks jump off the porch and run.

Officers gave chase until Fairbanks fell. He put his hand to his waistband, and an investigator drew his firearm and told Fairbanks to drop his weapon.

Fairbanks fled into the woods.

The next day officers found Fairbanks in the home of Wendall Jerles with a loaded .380-caliber pistol.

Fairbanks told agents he had hoped the officer would shoot him so he didn't have to return to jail.

In court Wednesday, Fairbanks' attorney said his client denied wanting to commit "suicide by cop."

Fairbanks has a prior felony meth conviction that raised the level of his prison sentence.

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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