05/20/13 Sarah Tabor, 21, formerly of Plymouth, was sentenced on May 16 in Marshall Superior Court No. 1 to 10 years imprisonment for manufacturing methamphetamine. In open court, Tabor admitted that on December 28, 2011 she was manufacturing methamphetamine at 313 ½ W. Washington St., in Plymouth.
Judge Robert O. Bowen approved an agreement reached between Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Nelson Chipman and defense attorney Joe Morris, which provided for a sentence at the Indiana Department of Corrections of 10 years of imprisonment. Four years of the sentence was suspended.
The case began when a detective from the Starke County Police Department notified Plymouth Police that Sarah Tabor was arrested in Starke County and had revealed in an interview that an active methamphetamine lab was located in her apartment on West Washington St. Plymouth Officers Derek Workman and Jesse Pippenger located the apartment and conferred with Sgt. Gary Cleveland. A chemical smell could be detected coming from the apartment and the officers became concerned for the safety of people in the neighborhood as well as danger to property should an unattended methamphetamine operation explode or ignite a fire as commonly occurs. In the interest of safety, the officers entered the apartment and located a back pack with Coleman fuel, dismantled lithium batteries, lye, coffee filters, salt and numerous other items associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine. After securing the dangerous items, the officers exited the apartment to await the arrival of the landlord, who then gave consent to search the premises more thoroughly.
Tabor filed a motion to suppress the evidence alleging that the entry by Plymouth Police into her apartment was illegal and that all items should be suppressed and not used for evidence at trial. A hearing was held on March 7 before Judge Robert Bowen, in which Chipman argued that based on the information received, an increasingly chemical smell emitting from the apartment and the extenuating circumstances of danger to persons and property justified the entry. He pointed out that the entry by the officers was for the limited purpose of ensuring the public safety, and once that was accomplished, the officers retreated to wait for the legal owner to arrive who then gave permission for a more extensive search. Judge Bowen agreed with Chipman’s argument and denied the motion to suppress the evidence.
The parties later submitted for Judge Bowen’s approval an agreement that provided for a ten year term of imprisonment, with four years suspended. Tabor will serve her sentence at the Indiana Department of Corrections.
The Prosecutor’s Office commends Officers Workman and Pippenger and Sgt Gary Cleveland in their excellent police work that resulted in saving people and property from the dangers of an active methamphetamine lab, and the successful prosecution of this case.