First in Alleged Meth Cases Pleads Guilty

MOUNDSVILLE – The first of 17 individuals alleged to have manufactured methamphetamine in Tyler County pleaded guilty to charges Thursday.

Shirl N. Baker III, 28, of Sistersville, appeared Thursday in Marshall County Circuit Court in connection to a year-long investigation into the meth trade in Tyler County.

Baker waived his right to have the hearing in Tyler County where the charges were filed.

According to Tyler County Prosecutor D. Luke Furbee, there are 17 individuals with cases pending relating to the Tyler County Sheriff’s office’s larger investigation into the meth trade in the county.

Furbee said Baker is the first person to be convicted in connection to the investigation.

Baker was arrested in March after the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police executed a search warrant at his home at 103 Temple Circle in Sistersville where officers found the components of a meth lab.

He was originally indicted twice on a total of 98 charges, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the state, possession of precursor with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, exposure of children to methamphetamine, operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory and manufacture of a controlled substance.

Earlier this month, Baker pleaded not guilty, as did the other individuals in the alleged drug ring.

On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to operating a clandestine drug laboratory from his basement.

The plea agreement calls for a sentence of 2-10 years.

He will be released on bond for two weeks before reporting to the West Virginia Northern Regional Jail to begin his sentence at noon July 24.

The other sixteen people were indicted by a Tyler County Grand Jury with charges ranging from operating a meth lab, conspiracy to produce meth and exposing children to meth. In June, Furbee unsealed and announced the indictments of those individuals. It wrapped up a unique term of court in Tyler County, with 21 individuals indicted on 171 charges. Of those, 148 were for criminal activity related to meth manufacturing.