Three remain serious after meth lab blast|Authorities looking for driver who dropped men at emergency room

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Three Warren County men who authorities say were involved in a methamphetamine lab explosion remained in serious condition at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., this morning. Meanwhile, it remained unclear if any of the men — who all have previous drug-related arrests — will face criminal charges as a result of the explosion just before midnight Monday.

“The district attorney will decide which of them will face charges, if any of them, after we’ve submitted our completed investigation,” said Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace. “At this point, it’s far too early to speculate on charges. We’ve got three people who are severely injured, and we’re concerned about them and hoping that they fully recover.”

George Alexander, 48, 354 Poole Road; Kenneth A. Downs, 44, 1315 Boy Scout Road; and Clifford Aubrey Geter, 37, 301 N. Fairview Drive, were apparently dropped off at the River Region Medical Center around 12:05 Tuesday morning, said Pace, and were shortly after transferred to the burn center.

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Evidence collected at Alexander’s mobile home — where the explosion took place — will likely be sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab in Jackson today to be analyzed, but Pace said it could be months before the results come back and his office’s investigation is complete.

No one else appears to have been injured in the explosion, said Pace, and the residences of Downs and Geter have not been searched.

Pace said none of the men could be interviewed at River Region following the explosion due to their conditions, and deputies were dispatched to their residences to investigate. They found Alexander’s mobile home on fire, and as it was being extinguished deputies discovered components inside consistent with manufacturing methamphetamine.

Pace said deputies are searching for the person who may have dropped the men off at the hospital to gain more insight into what may have happened at Alexander’s residence prior to the explosion.

Alexander was arrested for possessing more than a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of marijuana in 1989, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison in November 1990. He also had small amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine on his person when arrested, said Pace, but reached a plea bargain in which those charges were dropped. Alexander was released on parole in November 1993, but returned to prison on a parole violation in February of the following year. He completed his sentence in December 1996 and was released, said Mississippi Department of Corrections spokesman Tara Booth.

Booth said it was not uncommon for those convicted on non-violent offences to serve as little as 50 percent of their sentences before federal Truth In Sentencing laws went into effect in 1995 — which now require most prisoners to complete a minimum of 85 percent of their sentences.

Geter had also served five months in prison in 2004 on a possession of methamphetamine conviction from 2002. Although he was sentenced to three years stayed and five years probation after the February 2002 arrest, he violated his probation in July 2003 when arrested for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He entered prison in February 2004, was released in June 2004 and completed his probation in July of 2006, said Booth.

However, Geter faces two open charges in Warren County, according to his rap sheet. He was arrested in April 2006 for possessing a weapon as a felon, and arrested again in November 2007 for receiving stolen property. He was freed on the second arrest on a $20,000 bond in December 2007. 

Downs had only been free since Sept. 8 on a $5,000 bond when the explosion occurred. He was arrested on July 23 for possessing a precursor for manufacturing methamphetamine. He also has previous arrests for receiving stolen property and passing a bad check.

Alexander’s brother, James “Gee Gee” Alexander, held a 13-hour standoff with law enforcement authorities in May 2003 at a travel trailer off Halls Ferry Road between Gibson and Porters Chapel roads that ended in an explosion and his death. The standoff stemmed from a traffic stop on Fisher Ferry Road, from which “Gee Gee” Alexander fled on foot to the trailer. He fired shots from the trailer during the standoff, which included Warren County and federal authorities, and eventually used an explosive to blow the trailer up.