Two men are facing felony drug charges in connection with an explosion at a reported methamphetamine laboratory earlier this month. The men, who also face arson charges in connection with the incident, were allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine in a barn in St. Charles County, according to authorities.

One of the suspects, a 53-year-old man who owned the barn, told police that one of the batches did not mix properly, resulting in an explosion. In the ensuing blast, a woman's legs and feet were severely burned. She was transported to local medical facilities for treatment. The other suspect was a 24-year-old man.

The older suspect also told police that he had been allowing the woman to live in the barn and manufacture methamphetamine. She, in turn, gave him a portion of the meth she made. Officers who investigated the scene said they found equipment in plain sight that was obviously used to make meth, as well as paraphernalia that was used to smoke the drug. That equipment was tested in a forensic laboratory, and the presence of meth was confirmed. A search warrant yielded more chemicals and equipment used to make the drug.

Both of the men are being held on $75,000 cash bonds, according to judicial sources. It is not clear whether the woman who was burned is facing charges in the case.

In this case, it appears that the older suspect has admitted most of the wrongdoing, and the police officers have found a great deal of supporting evidence to indicate that the group was, in fact, making meth. It is unlikely that a not-guilty plea would be effective in this situation, given the overwhelming amount of evidence and the older suspect's de facto confession.

It is probable that the men's attorneys will advise them to plead guilty to avoid a jury trial. Guilty pleas generally yield more lenient sentences, since the suspects are admitting wrongdoing. The judge would consider the men's previous criminal record, along with the current drug case, to decide an appropriate punishment for the manufacture of meth.

Source: Wentzville Patch, "Meth lab explodes, severely burns woman, ignites barn," Joe Scott, Sept. 6, 2012