Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney pushes for harsher penalties for meth

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PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — A bill to raise penalties for possession to manufacture or deliver methamphetamine advanced in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Its inspiration: a disturbing case out of Mercer County that exposed the sinister grip the drug has on its users, and everyone in its path.

It was the most brutal and bizarre case Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney George Sitler had ever seen.

“We see a lot of killings, but I’ve never seen anybody saw somebody’s head off with dull kitchen knives, and that obviously was a side effect of her methamphetamine intoxication,” said Sitler.

Roena Mills’s trial was a window into the dark world of methamphetamine, a common thread in most violent crime in the area, according to Sitler.

“The methamphetamine crisis in southern West Virginia has spawned a huge number of violent crimes; both in gangland activity where gangs are shooting at each other to try to get control of the meth trade, and also just people behaving in bizarre and violent ways because of the affect of the drug itself,” said Sitler.

Sitler said the Mills case encouraged him to write House Bill 4852, which would increase penalties for possession to manufacture or deliver meth.

Chief Deputy Cpt. Joe Parks said law enforcement strongly supports the bill.

“What we see out here in the street… It makes us feel like lawmakers are taking what we take on as a burden as something very serious,” said Parks.

Parks said deputies in Mercer County deal with meth-related crime multiple times a week. He said meth causes bizarre, erratic, and sometimes violent behavior.

Mills stabbed Bo White 18 times, including a 10-inch deep stab wound to his chest, breaking his ribs and puncturing his heart.

“We’ve seen very intoxicated people on methamphetamine able to withstand pain and just feel like they’re untouchable, and they’re very hard to take into custody,” said Parks.

Sitler said the goal is to stop the trafficking of meth, and in turn save lives.

If passed, the penalties would increase from one to five years in prison or a $15,000 fine, to two to 10 years in prison or a $25,000 fine, or both.

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