Charges Dropped for Man After Elkridge Meth Lab Bust
'I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.' - Spencer Smith, 22.
Spencer Smith, 22, said the meth lab incident, which made headlines across the region, caused him to be evicted from his home and made it difficult to find work.
"I had one person contact me and say they couldn’t hire me because of it," said Smith, who has two children. "Being that it's harder to find a job, it's harder to take care of my kids."
The state dropped charges against Smith June 28. Four other men involved were indicted in July and face court this fall.
“There was insufficient evidence to indict Smith and to even charge Smith,” Wayne Kirwan, spokesman for the Howard County State's Attorney's Office, told Patch.
Smith spent a week in the Howard County Detention Center in June on charges of manufacturing, possessing and intending to distribute a controlled and dangerous substance other than marijuana.
Though the state dropped charges, Smith and his family said they would like an apology.
“I asked why I was arrested and I never got an answer,” Smith told Elkridge Patch in a phone interview. “All it was was ‘probable cause.’ That was the only thing they would dish out.”
On June 4, Howard County police executed a warrant at the Holiday Inn Express after a suspicious odor was reported, according to charging documents, and discovered vials of white powder, batteries, chemicals and a 99 mm handgun in two rooms on the fourth floor.
“Detectives were able to confirm with hotel management that [Spencer] Allen [Smith] was one of the occupants of the two rooms,” said Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department, in an Aug. 9 email. “This was also confirmed in statements made during interviews.”
Police charged five people—Smith and four of his coworkers employed by a construction company. The company paid for the two rooms, said Smith, while they worked on cell phone towers nearby.
Smith said he had been sharing a room with two of the four men also arrested and was unaware of activity involving methamphetamine.
"I did not know," he told Patch.
According to a motion filed by Smith's attorney, "in his 22 years of living, [Smith] has never run afoul of the criminal law before this episode."
Still, the initial reports that Smith was involved with drugs remained and the damage was done, said Smith and his father.
Currently, Smith, his fiancée and children—a 3-year-old and a 10-month old—are living in Minnesota with Smith’s parents because he was evicted from his home in Lock Haven, PA, after an article about him showed up in the local paper while he was in jail, family members said.
For now, Smith said he is working to get his life back on track.
"To go to jail for something that I didn’t do definitely was upsetting for me," said Smith. "I'm no dopehead. It's not something that I wanted to be caught up with. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Howard County police said that there was not an error at the time.
"According to detectives, there was sufficient probable cause at the time to place him under arrest," said Llewellyn.
Sean Smith, Spencer's father, said the cost was also financial; he paid approximately $7,500 to cover legal fees to bail his son out in mid-June.
"No one said, 'Spencer, we are sorry for all this and we wish you well in your life,'" said Sean Smith.
His son said he is trying to stay positive.
"I'm just glad I don’t have to deal with this anymore," said Spencer Smith. "I'm free."
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