Prosecutor on meth case: This is not an episode of ‘Breaking Bad’

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Walter Donald McPherson
Walter Donald McPherson

A state prosecutor warned about the dangers of making methamphetamine following a man’s guilty plea to charges in a meth case this week.

Walter Donald McPherson, 34, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of meth precursors, and possession of a firearm by a felon, possession with intent to sell or deliver heroin and misdemeanor child abuse, according to District Attorney Ben David. Superior Court Judge John Nobles sentenced McPherson to seven years in the N.C. Department of Corrections.

McPherson was first arrested in January 2015 on child abuse and heroin charges after Wilmington police found McPherson in the parking lot of a bowling alley with 20 bindles of heroin on his lap. McPherson’s young child in the car with him, David said.

On Aug. 10, 2015, he was charged again by Wilmington police, who made contact with McPherson while he was riding a bicycle in the area of Lily Drive. The officer searched McPherson’s backpack and found a loaded 9 mm handgun. McPherson had previously been convicted of a felony and was prohibited from carrying a handgun.

Then on Sept. 2, 2015, drug agents with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office received information about a potential methamphetamine lab at McPherson’s residence on Touch Me Not Drive, David said.

Detectives searched his home and found a water bottle that contained an active one-pot methamphetamine lab. They also found items used to make methamphetamine, as well as three laminated pieces of paper with step-by-step instructions for how to make meth on the kitchen counter, David said. A burnt Gatorade bottle was also found and suspected by detectives to have been used previously to manufacture methamphetamine.

“This isn’t an episode of ‘Breaking Bad.’ A thin layer of plastic and trained investigators were the only thing that prevented a fireball of toxins from being released into this quiet neighborhood,” Assistant District Attorney Timothy Severo said. “Our community is fortunate that the SBI has given us a nationally recognized agent in clan lab detection to partner with the Sheriff’s Office to protect our community.”

The investigations were conducted by the New Hanover County Sheriff Office, Wilmington Police Department, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Clan Lab Response Team. Severo prosecuted the case for the state. McPherson was represented by Chief Public Defender Jennifer Harjo and attorney Frank Jones.