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Two arrested on meth charges

A traffic stop and a subsequent search of a tent Wednesday night along the Mississippi River in Scott County  led to the arrest of a man and woman on methamphetamine manufacturing charges.

David L. Ahrens, 39, and Shaylynn Kay Blessington, 39, both of Buffalo, face charges of controlled substance violation, possession of pseudoephedrine, possession of lithium, possession of petroleum distillates, possession of ammonia nitrate, and possession of sodium hydroxide.

The controlled substance violation is a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, while the remaining charges are a Class D felony each punishable by up to five years in prison.

Blessington also faces a charge of possession of marijuana, a serious misdemeanor, and was cited for driving while license suspended. She was released Thursday from the Scott County Jail without posting bond and placed on the lowest level of pretrial supervision, according to court records. Blessington has a preliminary hearing June 5.

Ahrens waived his preliminary hearing and will be arraigned June 7. Bond was set Thursday at $10,000 cash or surety. If he posts bond, he will be placed on the highest level of pretrial supervision, according to court records.

According to arrest affidavits filed by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office:

About 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, Blue Grass police pulled over a vehicle driven by Blessington in the 11000 block of 140th Street in Davenport.

Ahrens was her front seat passenger. A search of the vehicle turned up marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, K2, methamphetamine paraphernalia, lithium batteries, sodium hydroxide (lye), ammonia nitrate (cold pack), empty pseudoephedrine blister packs/box, petroleum distillates (Coleman camp fuel), empty bags of methamphetamine, tubing, salt, precursor receipts and a suspected HCL gas generator.

The traffic stop subsequently led to the execution of a search warrant in the 1100 block of West Front Street in Buffalo, where Ahrens and Blessington were living in a tent along the river.

Officers found used coffee filters, sodium hydroxide and Coleman camp fuel.

According to the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEX), Ahrens has purchased pseudoephedrine 53 times and was blocked seven times between Feb. 7, 2013 and May 4, 2018.

Blessington has purchased pseudoephedrine 36 times and was blocked five times between Nov. 21, 2015 and Wednesday.

Ahrens admitted to police he was involved with manufacturing methamphetamine and used the drug with Blessington. And that Blessington collected methamphetamine-making materials for him, according to the affidavits.

Ahrens was sentenced in October 2014 to a suspended five-year prison sentence and placed on two years of probation on charges of conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony and possession of pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, according to court records.

In October 2016, his probation was extended to Oct. 31, 2018.

-- Tara Becker-Gray

RI man found not guilty by reason of insanity

A Rock Island man accused of burning down a Rock Island garage in 2016 was found not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday.

Associate Judge Norma Kauzlarich further ruled Felix Sawadogo, 20, will be remanded to the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services for an indeterminate amount of time.

Sawadogo faced charges of arson and attempted arson in Rock Island County Circuit Court. 

Rock Island firefighters were called on Jan. 18, 2016, to the 1600 block of 12th Street where an unattached garage was engulfed in flames. The garage was destroyed. The fire spread to a nearby garage, causing some damage.

Court records allege he tried to set fire to the same garage two days earlier.

On May 7, a brief bench trial was held before Kauzlarich. 

Rock Island County Assistant State’s Attorney Heidi Weller and Sawadogo’s attorney, Christine Boudro, each read a series of stipulations into the record that consisted of what each attorney's witnesses would have testified to in court. 

The stipulations read into the record by Weller included the account of an eyewitness who said they saw someone attempting to set the garage on fire, who pulled a balled up piece of burning paper from the structure before the fire could take hold.

An officer who responded on Jan. 18, 2016, found the garage heavily on fire and evacuated Sawadogo’s family from its residence, which was close to the garage. He found Sawadogo already outside watching the garage burn.

The officer knew Sawadogo was a suspect in the the Jan. 16, 2016, incident and asked him if he had set the fire. Sawadogo allegedly told the officer it could have been him or anyone.

When he interviewed Sawadogo’s family, the officer learned Sawadogo had been burning things and taking other destructive actions, including cutting power cords on appliances and damaging furniture.

Boudro’s stipulations included the accounts of several state mental health experts who examined Sawadogo in the months after his arrest. They found him several times to be unfit to stand trial.

One of these diagnosed Sawadogo with mental illness of which he began to show signs as a teen and for which he had not been effectively treated. At the time he is accused of setting the fires, the illness would have prevented him from knowing right and wrong.

In February 2016, Sawadogo was found unfit to stand trial and was remanded to the custody of DHS. He was deemed to have regained fitness in May 2016, but was placed in DHS custody for a second time in November 2016.

On Jan. 18, Sawadogo again was found fit enough to participate in the proceedings against him.

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