CLEARFIELD – A Howard man who claimed he cooked methamphetamine for his wife pleaded guilty Monday in Clearfield County Court.
Matthew John Winchell, 39, 106 Knob Rd., Howard, pleaded guilty to operating a methamphetamine laboratory, possessing red phosphorus with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and risking a catastrophe.
President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman sentenced him to six months to one year in jail and three years consecutive probation. He was fined $250 plus costs. He was ordered to complete drug and alcohol counseling and to have no contact with Veronica Winchell.
The charges stem from an incident in Lawrence Township on Nov. 15 when a probation officer checking on Veronica Winchell discovered a plastic bottle in Winchell’s truck that had been used as a portable methamphetamine-making device. Winchell told police he made the drug for his wife.
Prior to sentencing, Winchell’s parents addressed the court explaining that the only time Winchell has ever been in trouble was when he was involved with his wife. His father went as far to call her a “user” and to describe their relationship as Winchell taking “a stray off the street.” She had three children and could provide a home for them, he explained. They were together 15 years.
His attorney, Douglas Campbell, noted that Winchell had never spent time in jail before, and he has already served 90 days on these charges. The original plea was for 90 days, but it was rejected by the court. Instead, Ammerman asked for a six-month sentence.
Campbell pointed out that Winchell has strong support from his parents who said he could live with them when he gets out of jail. He asked Ammerman to give Winchell a county sentence.
Winchell also addressed the court apologizing “for my actions” and being involved in a criminal act.
Ammerman noted that in the affidavit of probable cause for this case, it states that Winchell also smoked the drug. When he questioned Winchell about the things his parents said about his wife, Winchell said what they said was “spot on.”
Ammerman asked him if he was “dumb enough to put up with this,” to which Winchell replied “yes”.
Veronica Winchell faces similar charges and according to online court documents is currently in the Clinton County Jail for a parole violation on a criminal attempt/criminal trespass case.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, a probation officer and police officers were at Veronica Winchell’s residence in Hyde to investigate a prior domestic incident. While there, they spotted foil with partially burn residue inside. The trailer was then secured and Veronica Winchell gave them permission to search the residence.
Numerous pieces of drug paraphernalia were in sight. They also founds items used to make methamphetamine including drain cleaner, a torch starter, a digital scale, coffee filters, 22 pieces of aluminum foil with residue, glass pipe with residue, a towel covered in red phosphorus, allergy medication, and a clear plastic container with possible methamphetamine inside. Veronica Winchell’s urine test was positive for methamphetamine.
Matthew Winchell gave permission for the officers to search his truck where they found the plastic bottle and camp fuel which is used to make methamphetamine.
When asked if this was methamphetamine, he confirmed it was meth. It was then he stated that he made it for his wife. The State Police Clandestine Lab Unit was contacted to take custody of the items.
In an interview with police, Matthew Winchell said he entered into an agreement with his wife, Veronica, to cook her methamphetamine. He went into the woods and made the drug there. He and five other people got together later and smoked the finished product.
Matthew Winchell stated to police that he made a mistake in getting back together with his wife and she is the sole reason he bought the chemicals and made the drug.