Owens sent to prison by heavy guard

Published 2:33 pm Saturday, December 1, 2007

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – A former felon was heavily guarded Friday morning in Cass County Circuit Court as he was hauled off to prison to serve at least seven years for methamphetamine making. Four sheriff's officers, including chief security officer George Adam, escorted him out of the courtroom.
Convicted was 44-year-old James Owens, who holds two Indiana convictions of theft and two burglaries and attempted voluntary manslaughter. After serving 20 years and while out on parole, he moved to Niles and stayed at Forler's Motel at 2483 Yankee St. with his girlfriend, Christina Davis, and her 10-year-old daughter.
A jury didn't believe his story that on Oct. 31 when Owens claimed he was trying to unclog the drains in the motel bathroom using a homemade Drano mixture. Owens admitted that he had smoked methamphetamine prior to being arrested but had no explanation for why he had coffee filters and a coffee grinder with pseudophedrine in it. There was no coffee pot found in the motel room. The jury found him guilty of operating a meth lab and operating a hazardous waste laboratory for manufacturing meth.
Friday assistant Prosecutor Tiffiny Vohwinkle said Owens was on parole for using firearms and attempted to kill another human being. She said he was guilty of having components to manufacture one of the most deadly substances known in our society. "By his own actions, he has shown he is not fit to walk the streets of a civilized community."
Defense Attorney Dale Blunier said his parole was dismissed and there was drug activity going on with a minor present, but he never tested positive for it. Blunier asked for the low end of his guideline range of 78 to 130 months.
Prior to sentencings, Owens said everything he read was not correct. He claimed he did not test positive and that lab results were not methamphetamine. He said everything was wrong. He said he wasn't on parole as he got out of prison in March, 2005.
"There was no meth found there," he said, claiming he was not selling it or manufacturing drugs to sell or make a living off of it. He admitted acting up a few times in jail but said once he got his medications right, he was okay and didn't hurt anybody. He said he was sorry.
It was Oct. 31, when a jury found Owens guilty for his April 2 offenses when police went to Forler's Motel on a tip of methamphetamine making. The jury found him not guilty of child abuse, and a charge of possession of marijuana resulted in a mistrial.
Dodge said police also went to the motel to arrest Owens on a parole violation.
He said he was on parole for the 1986 convictions. Finding no reasons to deviate from his guideline range, Dodge ordered 7 to 20 years on both convictions of meth making.
His fines and costs were $930. Dodge ordered his terms concurrent and consecutive to any time remaining on his Indiana convictions.
Davis earlier pleaded to operating and maintaining a laboratory and is currently serving her sentence at the Kalamazoo Probation Enhancement program.