Jury finds Ironwood man guilty on meth house explosion counts
BESSEMER - An Ironwood man was found guilty of three felonies in Gogebic County Circuit Court Friday for operating a methamphetamine laboratory that burned along with a house in Ironwood on New Year's Eve 2012.
Justin Farrsiar, 35, was found guilty by a jury of one count of operating or maintaining a meth lab and two counts of operating the lab near prohibited places, including a school and church. The duplex that burned was located near Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church and All Saints Catholic Academy.
Prior to the charges going to the jury, the judge dismissed two counts alleging operating the drug lab in the presence of a minor.
The jury deliberated on the remaining three counts and found Farrsiar guilty on them.
Each felony carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
He is incarcerated in the Gogebic County Jail, awaiting sentencing on Feb. 5 at 11 a.m., according to Tracie Wittla, Chief Assistant Prosecutor for Gogebic County. She handled the Ironwood Public Safety Department case.
Around 60 witnesses testified at the week-long trial.
The structure fire occurred at 131 S. Mansfield St. When the IPSD responded and extinguished the fire, it was later determined a meth lab was present in the upstairs apartment.
The home was a duplex occupied by two separate families who both lost their residences. Officers said the meth lab was believed to have caused the fire and explosion that destroyed most of the duplex. Officers said carelessness in manufacturing the meth resulted in the explosion.
All tenants of the duplex evacuated safely.
The duplex was razed last spring as a result of the fire, according to the IPSD.
The case was primarily investigated by IPSD officers Matt Sterbenz and Brandon Snyder, with the assistance of several other IPSD officers.
Also assisting in the investigation were the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team, Michigan State Police crime lab and members of the local Gogebic-Iron Area Narcotics Team.
"Numerous area business people also cooperated in the investigation and were very helpful in providing information. Everyone's cooperation was greatly appreciated," Wittla said.
Farrsiar was represented by Anna Talaska.