September 3, 2015

Court of Appeals rules in Webster County drugged driving case

gavel-thumbnailThe Iowa Court of Appeals has reversed a Webster County man’s conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Mathew Davis was stopped by a Fort Dodge police officer after he noticed Davis’ vehicle did not have a license plate.

Davis pulled over, but then took off running. Police found an open beer can in the car, but no other drugs. Officers say Davis had dilated pupils and fidgeted. He was charged and found guilty of third offense operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of such substances.

Davis asked for the conviction to be reversed, saying there was not evidence to support that he was under the influence of drugs.

The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the decision saying there was no evidence to support the controlled substance intoxication and no way to know if the jury found Davis guilty for using alcohol or controlled substances. The case now goes back to district court.


Manchester man sentenced to prison for making meth

GavelA Delaware County man is sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for going out of the country to get the ingredients to make meth.

Forty-two-year-old Roger Hettinger of Manchester pleaded guilty in May to importation of pseudoepherine, possession of illegal silencers and possession of pseudoepherine with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine.

Hettinger admitted to going to Canada with others to buy pseudoepherine to use in making meth at his home. A search of his home in January turned up a meth-making operation along with 19 guns and four homemade silencers for the guns. He was sentenced to 150 months in federal prison where there is no parole.


Police find makings for meth inside Cedar Rapids restaurant

Police-car-backPolice found the remnants of a meth lab inside a fast food restaurant in Cedar Rapids early this morning.

At about 4:45 a.m. this morning, Cedar Rapids Police got a call about something suspicious happening in the parking lot of a Taco Bell. The restaurant was closed at the time. When officers arrived, they found two men in the parking lot. Greg Buelow, a spokesman for the Cedar Rapids Police and Fire Departments, says one man said he worked there. The other was not an employee.

The police contacted the manager of the Taco Bell and Buelow says the manager asked police to go inside the Taco Bell and check things out. Police found some ingredients and equipment for making meth inside a utility closet in the Taco Bell.

Police and fire fighters who are trained to deal with the hazarous materials removed the meth-making ingredients within a couple of hours. It’s not clear if drugs were actually being made inside the restaurant. The local health department will conduct an inspection before the restaurant reopens.

Buelow is praising the passer by who alerted police.

“It’s always appreciated when people see activity that seems out of the ordinary so that police can investigate,” Buelow says. “And in this particular case it appears there may have been some drug activity going on.”

The Taco Bell is located in a retail area of Cedar Rapids that features a home improvement store, a Walmart and Sam’s Club as well as convenience stores and franchise restaurants.

A spokesperson contracted by the Taco Bell Corporation emailed a statement to Radio Iowa at 1:04 a.m. Wednesday.

“We understand that two people, one an employee, entered our franchisee’s restaurant illegally, allegedly possessing suspicious items. Both we and our franchisee find this completely unacceptable. Our franchisee has been cooperating with Cedar Rapids Police to investigate this isolated incident. Although the suspicious items found in the restaurant were not used in the kitchen, the employee has been terminated and our franchisee is considering pressing criminal charges. The restaurant will reopen after it has been sanitized inspected by the Health Department.” – Taco Bell Corp

Georgia man talks about son’s death at Iowa synthetic drug conference

Synthetic drugs come in various packages designed to attract teens.

Synthetic drugs come in various packages designed to attract teens.

A Georgia man whose son died after using synthetic marijuana was the keynote speaker Thursday at a conference on synthetic drugs in Sergeant Bluff. Lynn Dyer’s 14-year-old son Dakota took his own life three years ago.

“He tried it once. He tried it and went through what they call a psychotic break, took his handgun and shot himself in the head,” Dyer says. “He made an extremely bad decision over a very shot amount of time — and it cost him his life.” Dyer’s wife is a health care professional and he says they had no idea that K-2, Spice and other such synthetic drugs existed, or that their son knew about them.

“We’d had all the talks with our sons — the alcohol, the sex talk, the drug talk — we had them all. We didn’t know what synthetic drugs were, she didn’t and she dealt with drugs every day in the hospital. And when we found out what facilitated our son’s death, we became self-educated,” Dyer explains.

The Bremen, Georgia resident established a foundation in his son’s name and travels the country speaking about the dangers of synthetic drugs. He has three goals. “Education of our young people and parents. Two is to facilitate and help law enforcement, first responders and EMS with education, awareness and information on where this stuff is coming from. And third, is hopefully, prevent a parent from going through what we went through,” Dyer says.

He says the substances are packaged in pouches designed to appeal to teens. “They market these products strictly to our young people. You see flashy little bags, you see one that has Scooby Doo on it called Scooby Snacks, you see on that has the smiley face on it,” Dyer says. “There’s just countless different kinds and they are all in flashy little bags geared to our young people.” You can find out more about the danges of the drug at the Dakota Dyer Foundation(

The conference on synthetic drugs wraps up at Sergeant Bluff High School today (Friday)

(Photo and story by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)

Western Iowa conference focuses on synthetic drugs

SYNTHETIC-DRUGS-A conference in Sergeant Bluff in western Iowa today and tomorrow will discuss the dangers of synthetic drugs. Lieutenant Terry Ragaller with the Sergeant Bluff Emergency Services says people from the tri-state area are attending.

“We’re going to be covering topics such as: bath salts and spice and the new drugs that are really hurting our people,” Ragaller says. He says there are sessions for law enforcement, medical personnel and the public.

“Looking at medical aspects, legal aspects, social workers, addiction and therapy, and then we are also going to have a public information session for parents or just the general public to come to. And we’ll have Heartland therapists there from 6 to 8 p.m., as well as a father whose son killed himself while he was on these drugs.”

Ragaller says he’s seen an increase in the use of synthetic drugs in his daily calls. “There are a lot of instances of people overdosing — not even just overdosing — but just the natural use of it just drives people insane. They just go crazy,” Ragaller says. “We’re seeing it more and more of it since last fall, it really has picked up steam. I also work full-time in Sioux City, and we’re seeing more and more of it.”

He says many of the synthetic drugs are made in China and aren’t regulated there. Speakers are coming in from as far away as Georgia and Michigan.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)



Appeals Court: open alcohol containers allowed in private parking lots

GavelThe Iowa Court of Appeals rules you can have an open container of alcohol if your car is parked in a private lot. Des Moines police searched Lacey Brown’s car in 2013 after noticing an open container of alcohol inside.

Officers found a half-smoked marijuana cigar under Brown’s seat and she was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance. Brown says officers lacked probable cause to search the car because she was parked in private parking lot.

The district court denied her motion to throw out evidence from the search, but the Iowa Court of Appeals  reversed that ruling. The court says the privately-owned parking lot does not fall within the definition of “public street” or “highway” in the Iowa Code section that prohibits open containers of alcohol, so the officers did not have probable cause to search Brown’s car.

Here’s the full ruling: Lacey Brown ruling PDF


Sentences handed out to 5 in Mason City meth distribution ring

GavelFive men have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in a long-running Mason City-area methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 31-year-old Billy Huerta of Mason City and 32-year-old Steven Davis of Stockton California were bringing or mailing pound quantities of meth from California to the Mason City area with Huerta, 25-year-old Michael Moreno and 29-year-old Francisco Mora Martinez of Stockton California and 27-year-old David Huerta of Mason City also being involved in the conspiracy.

All pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute meth, with David Huerta and Davis also pleading guilty to distributing a controlled substance. Billy Huerta was previously convicted of a drug felony and sentenced to 20 years, David Huerta was sentenced to 11-and-a-quarter years, Davis to 121 months, while Mora-Martinez and Moreno each were sentenced to 10 years in prison

The meth ring operated from August 2010 to October of last year.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)