William “Ian” Whipple is in custody at the Teton County jail as of Monday due to release order violations.
Whipple was released from jail on Dec. 18, and the terms of his release included that he not consume or possess alcohol or controlled substances and that he violate no law.
According to court documents, detectives conducted a trash pull from his Pearl Avenue home on March 8 and found syringes that tested “presumptive positive for methamphetamine.”
Officers obtained a search warrant for his home, where they found LSD and ALPHA-PHP, as well as “numerous products containing alcohol.” ALPHA-PHP is a synthetic stimulant and a Schedule I controlled substance.
The discovery was significant not only because the items violated Whipple’s release order, but also because they were not found during the Dec. 16 search, court documents said. A bench warrant was issued for Whipple’s arrest on March 24. Sgt. Phil Smith confirmed Whipple surrendered on Monday.
Whipple, 52, and Timothy Ritter, 43, are defendants in a Teton County meth production case after law enforcement reported finding a clandestine methamphetamine lab in November at Whipple’s Pearl Avenue house.
Ritter and Whipple are both charged with conspiracy to produce methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance precursor. Each offense carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. They have both pled not guilty to those charges. Whipple also faces 15 additional charges filed in March.
Currently at issue is whether their cases will be joined.
Whipple and his attorney, Elisabeth Trefonas, are seeking to separate the cases to ensure that the defendants receive separate trials. Trefonas said that joining the cases renders Whipple “guilty by association” and would disrupt his right to a fair trial.
“My client intends on pointing much of the blame against Ritter, who was really in the driver’s seat,” Trefonas said in a Thursday hearing on the matter.
“Whipple asserts that he had nothing to do with precursors or conspiracies to commit controlled substance offenses,” Trefonas said in her objection to joining the cases. “Whipple also asserts that he was a victim of domestic violence in his relationship with Ritter and there are numerous complications with being required to participate in a joint trial sitting at the same defense table as Ritter.”
Trefonas also argued that the amount of evidence, which took 18 hours to merely finish downloading, may be so complicated that the jury could not evaluate the evidence properly and individually for each defendant.
Bill Fix, who is representing Ritter, agreed that the cases should remain separate and echoed the extensive discovery process.
“The amount of evidence I’ve seen in this case is more than I’ve ever seen in 42 years,” Fix said. “It would take weeks to sort this out.”
Clayton Kainer, the prosecutor of the case, conceded that joining the cases may present logistical challenges.“The size of the courtroom here in Teton County doesn’t lend itself to a joint trial,” Kainer said in the hearing. “We may need to look for a different venue. Two defendants with separate trial teams presents logistical concerns.”
Judge Marvin Tyler, who presided over the Thursday hearing, said he would issue a decision on whether the cases will be joined “in the very near future.”
As of press time Tuesday, no decision had been issued.