Woman pleads guilty to charges stemming from at-home meth lab

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Paul Dunn and Katrina Welch (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)
Paul Dunn and Katrina Welch (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

A 41-year-old woman pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to two charges stemming from an at-home meth lab investigation last spring.

Katrina Jeanette Welch, of Norfolk, came to the York-Poquoson Circuit Court Tuesday wearing a pinstriped women’s pantsuit, agreeing to plead guilty to possession of a controlled substance and an amended charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, both class 5 felonies.

Welch, who was in treatment for several months after the incident according to court records, answered all necessary questions from the circuit court judge regarding the plea.

While laying out evidence in court, prosecutor Donna Maw told Judge Richard Rizk that York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office investigators had been surveilling the house in the spring, located at 504 Musket Drive, due to a suspicion methamphetamine was being manufactured there.

Welch was living at the York County home with her then-boyfriend, Paul Dunn, 46, and her two children, Maw said. Dunn is also facing several charges in connection with the incident.

Maw said investigators detected methamphetamine in trash recovered from the home, and executed a search warrant on April 18. The search revealed methamphetamine and ingredients used to make the drug, which was being manufactured in a shed behind the house.

Pseudoephedrine — an ingredient used to make the drug — and methamphetamine were found in the home’s bedroom as well, according to evidence. According to a certificate of analysis from the Department of Forensic Science in Norfolk, police found a total of about 135 grams of pseudoephedrine and 153 grams of pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine together. Three items were also untested, including a length of plastic tubing, a scale and two plastic bags with white residue inside.

Welch told investigators that she was “addicted to meth and had been addicted to it in the past,” Maw said.

In court Tuesday, Rizk agreed to amend one charge from manufacturing methamphetamine to conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, reducing her possible maximum sentence from 40 years to 10 years in prison.

The second charge, possession of a controlled substance, also carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Welch appeared in court just after the co-defendant in the case, Dunn, appeared before the judge. Dunn is charged with possession of a schedule I or II controlled substance, manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of a firearm while possessing a schedule I or II controlled substance.

Dunn’s attorney, J. Stephen Roberts Sr., said in court Tuesday that both Dunn and Welch are doing well under pretrial supervision. Dunn and Welsh were released on bond July 13 and July 26, respectively, according to court records.

According to court case documents, Welch was granted $5,000 unsecured bond and sent to a treatment facility in Georgia, where she was on a “multi-step level of recovery” and had one-on-one counseling sessions.

On Oct. 4, the court changed her bond conditions so she could return home and live in Norfolk until her trial date.

Welch will return to court April 13 at 9 a.m. for sentencing. She faces up to 20 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Dunn is scheduled for a case review Feb. 16.

Fearing can be reached at 207-975-5459.