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Hawkins man indicted on charges stemming from meth lab explosion

Jeff Bobo • Dec 9, 2008 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County man who took his wife to the hospital after she was injured in an alleged meth lab explosion this past July and later returned home to destroy evidence of the lab has been indicted on several charges by the Hawkins County grand jury.

James Clearance McKeel, 32, 791 Tuggle Hill Road, was indicted Monday on charges including manufacturing meth, promotion of manufacturing meth, tampering with evidence, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The incident occurred on July 6. McKeel’s wife, Opal McKeel, was brought by him to the emergency room of Hawkins County Memorial Hospital and later transported to the Vanderbilt University burn center.

McKeel left his wife at the hospital and returned home allegedly to destroy or conceal evidence of the meth lab explosion, which apparently took place outside the residence.

A Hawkins County deputy found McKeel at his home, and upon detecting an odor associated with meth manufacturing, the deputy took McKeel into custody.

Detectives from the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division returned to McKeel’s residence the next day and found a burned area and alleged meth lab components buried in a hole in the yard. Police said there were also numerous other items associated with meth manufacturing found on the property, including several mason jars containing pseudoephedrine tablets soaking in ether, empty pseudoephedrine boxes and blister packs, punctured starting fluid cans, tubing, lithium strips, lithium batteries, and a large container of ammonia nitrate.

Based on the evidence recovered at the residence, detectives believe it is possible that someone was smoking near the lab and ignited the fumes.

A HCSO report stated McKeel denied any knowledge of a meth lab and said his wife had been burned while cooking hot dogs.

Others indicted Monday by the Hawkins County grand jury and their charges were:

•Joshua Junior Arnold, 19, 224 Old Route 66, Rogersville, vehicular homicide.

•Nena Marie Hammond, 19, 126 Summit Hill Road, Bulls Gap, vehicular assault, driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an injury accident, violation of the open container law, and failure to show proof of insurance.

•Rodney Allan Lawson, 24, 195 Helton Hollow Road, Eidson, statutory rape and evading arrest.

•Trinity Brian Livesay, 23, 1602 Melinda Ferry Road, Bulls Gap, two counts of aggravated burglary, three counts of burglary, four counts of theft over $1,000, theft over $500, speeding 100 mph in a 55 mph zone, felony evading arrest, and felony reckless endangerment.

•Christopher Larry Hughes, 35, 414 Bay St., Mount Carmel, unlawful possession of a weapon, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

•Kenneth Robert Bare, 29, and Tessa Nicole Glover, 26, both of 1847 Route 70-N, Rogersville, initiation process to manufacture meth, promotion of manufacturing meth, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

•Gregory Casey Stewart, 20, and Brittany Nicole Charles, 19, both of 329 Boyd St., Rogersville, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, simple possession of Alprazolam, simple possession of Diazepam, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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