Butane honey oil lab case moves closer to trial in Nevada County Superior Court
Late last summer, a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy conducting a marijuana compliance check uncovered what then-Sheriff Keith Royal called “the largest honey oil lab we have ever seen.”
On Thursday, the attorney for the resident argued — unsuccessfully — that Deputy Micah Arbaugh could not possibly have seen evidence of chemical extraction of cannabis inside an open garage.
Bryan Scott Compton, 31; Jaclyn Christina Volek, 27; and Michael Patrick Dunn, 29, of Grass Valley, were arrested after a search warrant was executed at the residence on Victoria Drive. Detectives reportedly found several labs on the property, 50 pounds of suspected processed honey oil and over $40,000 in cash.
No charges were filed against Volek. Compton and Dunn each were charged with manufacturing a controlled substance.
On Thursday, before a preliminary hearing in the case began, Dunn pleaded no contest to the charge. No plea deal was reached. Deputy District Attorney Cambria Lisonbee said she would not oppose a sentence of up to 90 days in jail given Dunn’s lack of criminal history. Dunn would face a maximum of seven years in prison if he violates probation, Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven noted. He is set for sentencing on Feb. 28.
At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Sloven found enough evidence to hold Compton on the charge of manufacturing controlled substances. He was set for formal arraignment on Jan. 13.
Arbaugh testified Thursday that he had been conducting an ordinance check in response to a complaint when he arrived at the property on Aug. 8, 2018. He said he did not get an answer when he knocked on the front door, and saw evidence of a “honey oil” lab inside the garage as he walked back to his vehicle.
According to Arbaugh, he saw a total of eight freezers in the garage, along with steel tubing, a tote with marijuana, lab equipment he said was consistent with a closed-loop extraction system, and a mason jar containing honey oil.
Deputy Steve Stanley, a detective with the Narcotics Task Force at the time, testified one lab was found in the residence and one was found in a shipping container, and said there was finished honey oil “all over the house.”
Stanley testified that a man at the property when he arrived told him he was employed by Compton, and he was allowed to leave after he retrieved belongings from the shipping container. According to Stanley, business labels found at the property linked the honey oil to Compton and Dunn.
Butte County District Attorney’s Office investigator Douglas Patterson testified he was called out to safely disable the hash oil lab. He said he found an active closed loop cannabis extraction system under pressure that used butane in the shipping container, and explained the process used to drain the system of butane.
Defense attorney Raza Lawrence argued there was nothing to tie his client to the shipping container and no evidence he was involved in butane extraction. Sloven, however, said there was a logical inference the shipping container, which was on property being rented by Compton, belonged to him.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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