IM meth lab burn victim sent to prison for 5 years


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN – An Iron Mountain man who suffered third-degree burns in a chemical explosion last fall has been sentenced to a minimum of five years in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Travis Pearce, 31 had pleaded no contest to operating/maintaining laboratory involving methamphetamine and habitual offender, second offense notice, from a chemical explosion that occurred on Oct. 2, 2012 in Iron Mountain.

Defense attorney Dan Anderson of Iron Mountain said Pearce still has blistering from third-degree burns from the incident.

Anderson added Pearce was burned on 43 percent of his body, had detached retina, has had 11 surgeries, has a permanent limp, suffers from a hearing problem, and will need more surgeries in the future.

Pearce still wears gauzes and protective gloves on his hands and arms.

Anderson said while incarcerated at the Dickinson County Jail, Pearce gained insight into his drug addiction and wants to stay sober and clean.

The explosion occurred last October and Pearce was taken to the jail following a lengthy hospital stay for treatment of burns.

“He learned a lesson,” said Anderson who asked the court to depart from the guidelines.

Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Richards said Pearce would be looking at a significant longer prison term if not for the plea agreement. She said it’s apparent he suffered some form of punishment.

“It was a foolish decision to attempt to manufacture meth,” she said.

Richards added that Pearce will be reminded of the physical scars daily when he looks in the mirror. But there is too much at stake for others to follow in his footsteps and for those who live next to methamphetamine laboratories to not incarcerate Pearce.

Speaking at his sentencing, Pearce said he agreed with what the prosecuting attorney and his attorney said.

He asked for mercy and said he really suffered.

“I’m nothing to it,” he said to his drug addiction. “I went to school here, played football (for Iron Mountain), swam at Lake Antoine. It’s chewing us up and spitting us out. I am not an evil man. I’m from here. I’m one of them.”

Pearce added he paid physically and mentally and found himself spiritually.

Judge Richard Celello told Pearce his physical pain is of his own doing and did not take that into consideration for purposes of sentencing.

“You did it to yourself. This is the most incredibly addicting substance known to man right now and is more addicting than heroin,” Judge Celello said. “Stay off drugs and alcohol and you can do good things.”

Celello added that he hopes the change in Pearce will continue for more than four months after he is released form prison.

Pearce committed this offense while on parole after serving time for the breaking and entering of A&W Restaurant, which he was convicted of on April 14, 2011.

Because he was on parole at the time of this offense, time served is considered “dead time” and he was not given jail credit.

Judge Celello sentenced Pearce to five years to 30 years, consecutively for the two felony charges.

“I think five years is enough to get your attention. If you re-offend and start using again, it will be death or prison the rest of your life,” Celello said.

He added that if getting up every morning and looking in the mirror doesn’t get Pearce’s attention, nothing will.

Pearce was originally scheduled to be sentenced on June 17. That date was moved up and he was sentenced on Monday.

Lisa M. Reed’s e-mail address is