Pregnant York County woman to serve time for meth lab

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

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

A woman who operated a meth lab in the backyard of her York County home will spend four months in prison following a judge’s order Thursday.

Katrina Jeanette Welch, who now lives in Norfolk, appeared at the York-Poquoson Circuit Court Thursday morning for a sentencing hearing. Welch, 41, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and an amended charge of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in February.

Both charges carry a maximum of 10 years in prison. Judge Richard Rizk sentenced Welch to a combined 20 years in prison, with 19 years and eight months suspended.

“Ms. Welch, you’ve got a considerable break from the guidelines,” Rizk said. “Consider yourself fortunate.”

Welch is pregnant and due in October, she said during testimony. She was ordered to submit to a drug screening Thursday and did not test positive for any controlled substances.

Rizk also ordered Welch to complete a program at the South-Eastern Family Project, a treatment program for pregnant women who are battling addiction.

Welch said in court that she began using methamphetamines in 2014 after being clean for more than a decade.  The defense argued that stresses in her life and traumas from her past led her to relapse.

MethLab
The site of Welch’s meth lab. (Courtesy Google Maps)

“Do I have it under control? I believe I do,” Welch said from the witness stand. “It was a slip. I did great for a long time and I let life get to me.”

She added that the last time she used methamphetamine was April 2016.

Welch was living at the York County home with her then-boyfriend, Paul Dunn, 46, and her two children, when she and Dunn were charged and arrested for conspiracy to manufacture drugs. Dunn is also facing several additional charges in connection with the incident and will appear in court April 18.

Investigators detected methamphetamine in trash recovered from the home and executed a search warrant in April 2016. 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.

WYDaily archives were used in this story.