NORTON: Two Norton residents face charges stemming from a meth lab raid over the weekend that sent two police officers and one of the suspects to the hospital.
Craig S. Bennett, 35, and Mercedes Baier, 22, have been charged with illegal manufacturing of drugs, illegal assembly of chemicals used in the manufacturing of drugs, and child endangering, all felonies. The manufacturing charge is a first-degree felony because Baier is pregnant.
Norton police Chief Thad Hete said police were called to a manufactured home in the 1200 block of Norton Avenue on Friday.
“The officers noticed a strong ammonia smell inside,” Hete said.
The chief said the smell at first was attributed to a bucket of human waste found in a corner of the trailer along with dog waste on the floor.
By the time the officers found a working meth lab hidden behind a sheet dividing it from the rest of one of the rooms, Hete said, they were overcome with fumes.
“They were having problems breathing and had burns on their faces and hands,” Hete said.
Along with the officers, Baier was transported to the hospital to be checked out because of her pregnancy. All three were treated and released.
Bennett also faces three misdemeanor warrants and a new charge of aggravated arson.
Hete said that in October 2011 firefighters responded to a reported fire in a home in the 4900 block of 21st Street and found Bennett lying on the lawn with severe burns.
“He told the firefighters he spilled grease on himself,” Hete said.
But Hete said while talking to investigators over the weekend he changed his story.
“Bennett said he was burned from a meth lab flash fire in the garage,” Hete said. “He put out the flames before firefighters got there.”
Bennett and Baier appeared Monday in Barberton Municipal Court and remain in jail on $25,000 bonds.
They are scheduled to return to court Wednesday.