O’Brien upbeat, grateful at meth sentencing

MARIETTA – Prior to being sentenced to three years in prison Friday, a Marietta man said he saw his arrest for manufacturing methamphetamine in a positive light.

“It was more of a godsend that I was arrested on that,” 29-year-old Ashley “Josh” O’Brien told Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

O’Brien told Lane he’s healthier now than he was on Jan. 4 when he was arrested at his 300 Arends Ridge Road, Marietta, residence following the execution of a search warrant by the local Major Crimes Task Force. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office reported materials used in the manufacture of meth – including Coleman fuel, solvents, salt and multiple reaction vessels and acid generators – were discovered, along with a white powder that a field test indicated was meth.

The second-degree felony charge of manufacturing meth carries a mandatory prison term of three years. O’Brien’s attorney, Joe Brockwell, asked Lane not to impose a sentence longer than that minimum, and Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings did not request a specific length.

“He’s a nice man. He’s an intelligent man. He made a terrible mistake,” Brockwell said. His client has taken responsibility for his actions, he said. “He’s an individual with a tremendous amount of potential.”

Rings said the potential for harm from O’Brien’s activities was great, noting that the meth-cooking process is volatile, potentially resulting in poisonous fumes and even explosions.

At some point, he and others were making the drug in an area with numerous houses and a school, Rings said.

“It started in a house on Arends Ridge but actually, when he was finally picked up, they were doing this in a house in Devola,” he said.

Initial reports said O’Brien was also charged with a third-degree felony count of assembly of chemicals. That was not mentioned in Friday’s proceedings, but Rings said O’Brien pleaded guilty as charged and no plea deal was made.

Rings said he was impressed with O’Brien’s statement to the judge.

“You hope that the need for putting this part of your life behind you has hit this young man,” he said.

O’Brien will receive credit on his sentence for the 86 days he’s already served in the Washington County Jail. Lane also imposed a driver’s license suspension for six months after O’Brien is released.