POINT PLEASANT — Preliminary hearings have been scheduled in Mason County Magistrate Court for five people arrested during a drug bust over the weekend in Ashton.
Matthew Gibson, 24, Ashton, will appear at 9:30 a.m., March 25; Krista L. Aeiker, 20, Ashton, will appear at 11:30 a.m., March 25; Joshua W. Smith, 23, Ashton, will appear at 11 a.m., March 25; John Cornell, 22, Apple Grove, will appear at 10:30 a.m., March 25; Michael A. Mayes, 47, Ashton, will appear at 10 a.m., March 25.
Preliminary hearings determine if there is, or is not, probable cause to send the case on to further proceedings in Mason County Circuit Court. Defendants have the right to waive their preliminary hearings and take a chance with a grand jury which may or may not present an indictment.
All defendants initially appeared before Magistrate Cheryl Miller Ross who set their bonds as follows: $500,000 for Gibson; $75,000 each for Mayes, Cornell and Smith; $100,000 for Aeiker. All suspects were transported to the Western Regional Jail where they remained as of press time on Tuesday.
According to the Mason County Sheriff’s Department, following a search of the Gibson residence, several items of narcotics, including methamphetamine and heroin, were allegedly located and seized from both inside and outside the home. Drugs were also allegedly recovered from Smith and Cornell. Initial reports were that deputies found an active meth lab at the residence which Sheriff Greg Powers said was not true. Guns were also removed from the home.
As for the child abuse charges, they stem from a 21-month old child who lived at the residence allegedly being present inside the home when meth was consumed (smoked) by Gibson, Smith, Cornell and Mayes, according to the sheriff’s department. The child was also removed from the home by authorities.
In addition, the West Virginia State Police’s Bomb Squad was called to disarm an explosive device in the residence which appeared to be set as a type of booby trap, Powers said. The device was located at the rear of the detached garage.
The investigation is being led by the Mason County Sheriff’s Department. In addition to Cpt. Terry, on the scene from the sheriff’s department were Sgt. Varian, Cpl. Powell, Chief Deputy Downing and Powers. Also, the Valley Fire Department assisted in helping direct traffic.