In December, police responding to an assault report found acetone, beakers and propane tanks at the home of a Casper man.
Prosecutors say officers stumbled upon the remnants of a meth lab and accuse the man, David Dale Baker, of being involved in its operation. His attorney argues police didn't find a meth lab and that some of the materials they found aren't unusual, given that Baker worked as a painter and welder.
The trial that will settle the matter began Monday in Natrona County District Court with opening statements from both sides.
Baker, 38, is also charged with allowing two children, ages 4 and 8 at the time, to be in his Fenway Street home where the drug was being manufactured.
Police responded to Baker's home on Dec. 20 to apprehend him on an assault and battery complaint by his girlfriend, according to an affidavit by a special agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.
When officers arrived, they found Baker's truck running outside the house, Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Marken said. Inside, an AK-47 assault rifle, shotgun and a buck knife were visible.
More officers arrived, as did Baker's girlfriend. Police forced the front door open and swept the cluttered house searching for Baker. They didn't find him, but did find materials used in the making of meth, Marken told jurors.
Officers found chemistry beakers, cans of acetone, baggies of meth and, next to some long underwear in Baker's bedroom, a hot plate that tested positive for methamphetamine, the prosecutor said. Police also found a turkey baster that tested positive for the drug.
"These are items that are not typically used for someone who is just using meth," Marken said.
However, Baker's attorney, Don Tolin, told jurors there wasn't a meth lab in his client's home.
"It is not going to look like your high school chemistry classroom because there wasn't a lab there," he said.
Testimony will show Baker was remodeling his home at the time and has worked as a painter and welder, Tolin said during his opening remarks. A person who is remodeling his house might have acetone to use as a paint thinner and welders often have propane tanks in their shops, he explained.
The traces of drug that were found, Tolin added, might indicate someone who uses the drug, but not someone who manufactures it.
Before opening statements, a jury of seven women and six men was selected.
Reach Joshua Wolfson at (307) 266-0582 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.