Meth lab trial delayed

A prosecutor says he'll seek an exceptionally long sentence for Clifford E. Chew if he's convicted.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man scheduled for trial next week for allegedly operating a large methamphetamine lab at the Walla Walla Vineyard Inn now is slated to face a jury in the fall.

The proceedings for Clifford E. Chew, 56, were set to begin Monday in Walla Walla County Superior Court, but now are scheduled to start Oct. 18. He's charged with manufacture of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school bus route stop, possessing pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture meth and possession of the controlled substance with intent to deliver.

This is the second postponement of the trial, initially set to be held in July.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gabriel Acosta has filed notice he intends to seek an exceptional sentence of longer than 10 years if Chew is convicted.

Police said they recovered many items used to manufacture meth -- in addition to the finished product -- when they served a search warrant May 18 in room 106 of the Vineyard Inn, 325 E. Main St.

The lab reportedly was one of the largest discovered in Walla Walla County. But Chew's attorney, Jim Barrett, maintains there was no methamphetamine being manufactured.

Dena R. Turner, the motel's manager when the lab allegedly was discovered, also was arrested. She is suspected of allowing Chew to store four 64-ounce bottles of ammonia in a freezer in her room near the main office.

She also gave Chew her master key card allowing access to several other units, failed to register him as a guest and didn't collect money from him, according to a police report filed in court.

Turner, 38, is set for trial Sept. 20 on the charge of complicity to the manufacturing of meth.

Attorneys for both defendants have filed motions to suppress evidence in the case.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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