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Montana man’s meth conviction destroyed after main witness drug used for the giving of testimony

James Bachtell, the conviction was overturned this month.

(Cascade County Detention Center)

A Montana judge threw a man methamphetamine possession conviction Thursday was proof of an expert witness who testified against him probably stolen meth from a crime lab and was under the influence when he was speaking in the courtroom.

James Donald Bachtell was arrested in June 2017 after an officer found meth residue, a glass pipe in his pocket, the Great Falls Tribune reported. Derrick Thrush, a forensic chemist for the state, was called to his expert testimony on Bachtell the test in February. 12, 2018.

Bachtell was sentenced for the crime of criminal possession of dangerous drugs after Thrush’s testimony, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

However, Cascade County Attorney Josh Racki called Bachtell, the lawyer of Vince van der Hagen two days after the conviction to tell him that Thrush taken meth on the way to the trial, the newspaper reported, citing a public defender’s office depot.

More than a week after the conviction, Scott Larson, the Montana Department of Justice Forensic Science Division, said an internal investigation revealed Thrush “deleted” drug evidence submitted to the crime lab. Larson wrote in a letter that Thrush was fired and the office is “not aware of any inaccuracies with the results in our final reports, but we must complete our investigation before we know the full parameters of this situation.”

Thrush pled guilty to three felony drug possession charges and crimes against theft, and the official debt of Aug. 14. Merel told a colleague that he had “ingested meth” on his journey to the courtroom for his testimony on Feb. 12, the newspaper reported, citing the defense pieces.

Thrush allegedly admitted to taking the “leftovers meth” evidence bags “for 5 to 6 times in the last year,” but never used the drugs in the laboratory.

District court judge John Parker determined that Thrush is hampered Bachtell the right to a fair trial.

“The court heard credible testimony that the Lord Thrush stolen items of physical evidence, namely meth, of the custody of the Montana State Crime Lab,” Parker stated. “The evidence shows that Mr. Thrush, by his own admission, included meth in his system while on the way to the test. Mr. Thrush was probably under the influence of meth at the time that he, by his testimony, helped ensure that the criminal conviction of Mr. Bachtell for the offense of methamphetamine possession.”

A new trial date was set for Nov. 19.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.

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