Meth lab conviction nets 12 years

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2000

Thursday, October 12, 2000

A Wykoff man found guilty last month for his role in connection with an Austin meth lab was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison.

Matthew Wayne Horsman, 35, received the sentence in Mower County Third Judicial District Court. A jury had found Horsman guilty of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine drugs, however, he was found not guilty of aiding and abetting in the manufacture.

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Horsman was one of four individuals arrested after an Oct. 6, 1999, raid on a building along 10th Drive SE. Led by Austin Police Detective Sgt. Thomas Stiehm, law officers swarmed over the building in what was the first raid on a methamphetamine lab.

Three other individuals negotiated pleas for lesser charges in return for their testimony against Horsman at a jury trial before District Judge Donald E. Rysavy.

According to court testimony, Horsman was believed to have been the organizer of the meth lab in Austin and the person who paid his accomplices with the drug.

The presence of an assault rifle with a fixed bayonet at the garage along 10th Drive SE indicated the deadly seriousness of the individuals.

State Assistant Attorney General Timothy Rank assisted Mower County Attorney Patrick A. Oman in prosecuting the offenders. Horsman was represented by Peggy Roskow-Esken.

At Tuesday’s sentencing, Rank and Oman argued for an upward departure from sentencing guidelines, which called for a presumptive sentence of 158 months. Rank listed six factors that qualified Horsman’s actions as a "major control substance offense," which satisfied the description of a conspiracy.

Horsman’s defense attorney, Roskow-Esken, offered a counterargument his actions did not merit the upward departure. Also, the defense attorney suggested the prosecution’s witnesses, Horsman’s accomplices in the meth lab’s operation and distribution, were not credible.

"The factors are not substantive or compelling enough for an upward departure," Roskow-Esken said.

With Austin police and Mower County Sheriff’s Department officers watching at all courtroom exits, the defendant spoke on his behalf.

Horsman addressed the court at length. He admitted, "We were all doing drugs together" but also said his accomplices, "In order to get good deals, they are telling things about me that aren’t true. I don’t know why people are trying to put the screws to me."

He did not express any remorse or take responsibility for his actions.

In making his ruling, Rysavy said there was "far more than a preponderance of evidence" to merit considering an upward departure, but not to the 300 months sought by the state.

In handing down the 240-month sentence, the judge said 160 months would have to be served, while 80 months could qualify for conditional release. Horsman also will be given credit for time served in the Mower County Jail since his arrest Dec. 6, 1999. The sentence runs concurrent with a conviction Horsman received in Freeborn County District Court and he has the right to appeal.

Horsman was ordered bound over to the state Department of Corrections for transportation to the St. Cloud Correction Center.

After the sentencing, Oman and Rank said they were pleased with the sentencing Horsman received even though they asked for a double upward departure.

While risking the uncorroborated testimony of questionable witnesses, Oman said it added "such texture and content" that the jury did not ignore.

Oman praised state Attorney General Michael Hatch for assigning Rank to assist in the prosecution. Rank is one of two assistant attorneys general with special expertise in prosecuting meth cases throughout the state.

Rank said the attorney general is "very committed to the prosecution of these cases."