In court

Joseph Mehalick, of Raleigh County, sits next to Defense Attorney Natalie Hager awaiting sentencing in Judge William Sadler’s court Tuesday afternoon.

PRINCETON — A Raleigh County man charged with operating a clandestine drug lab and exposing children to methamphetamine manufacture will stay on home confinement with the possibility that he can enter a drug rehabilitation program.

Joseph Mehalick, 26, appeared in Judge William Sadler’s court Tuesday for sentencing.

Defense Attorney Natalie Hager requested probation for Mehalick, saying he is fully remorseful for his crimes and is seeking long-term treatment with a drug rehabilitation facility. She added he is also working to obtain his G.E.D. and wants to do everything he can to get custody of his children.

Mehalick also spoke in court Tuesday and said he would like to continue to work with the department and get treatment. He said he is going to church on Wednesdays and wants to continue working on his faith.

“I’m trying to be the father I need to be for my children,” he said.

Sadler sentenced Mehalick to two to 10 years for his drug lab charge and one to five years for the exposing children to methamphetamine manufacture charge. He then suspended the sentence then ruled the term to be served on home confinement according to the rules and regulations in Raleigh County with the possibility that Mehalick can enter into a drug rehabilitation program. Sadler said he anticipates putting Mehalick on probation once he completes the treatment.

Mehalick, along with Lois Wamsley, 24, of Raleigh County, were arrested after the Mercer County Sheriff's Department received an anonymous tip about a meth lab. When sheriff's deputies and a member of Child Protective Services made contact with the couple at their residence on Low Gap Road near Princeton they discovered signs of a clandestine drug lab.

Two children, ages 7 months and 18 months were present in the home.

Both Mehalick and Wamsley pleaded guilty to charges of operating a drug lab and exposing children to methamphetamine manufacture. Wamsley was placed on probation for three years with standard terms including drug addiction treatment.

— Contact Jackie Puglisi at jpuglisi@ptonline.net

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