Defendant to stand trial in Lawrence County meth trafficking case

Nov. 10—MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — A third defendant waived a preliminary hearing this week on charges in a Lawrence County meth trafficking case in which two others have already been sentenced.

Gerald W. Thornton Jr., 32, of Galena, waived the hearing Monday in Lawrence County Circuit Court on counts of second-degree trafficking in drugs, first-degree child endangerment, keeping a public nuisance, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Judge Matthew Kasper set Thornton's initial appearance in a trial division for Dec. 13.

The marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges stem from an arrest Jan. 1, 2021, and the other counts from a raid executed by sheriff's deputies and a SWAT team on March 9, 2021, at a property on County Road 1224 near Aurora with trailers and outbuildings.

The sheriff's office was looking for Freddie Jensen Jr., who had several active felony warrants and had fled a traffic stop on a motorcycle. A second search warrant was served on the property when a bag containing about a quarter pound of methamphetamine and $1.040 were found in Jensen's possession upon his arrest.

The search turned up more meth in a trailer believed to be Jensen's home and another gram of meth, a little more than half a pound of marijuana and a shotgun were found in a trailer occupied by his father, Freddie Jensen Sr.

Officers also found Thornton hiding in a clothes dryer inside the younger Jensen's home. A probable-cause affidavit states that Thornton initially pretended to have a mental disability and provided a false name to officers.

About 17.5 grams of meth were discovered in a toy box in a child's play room of the home, along with various supplies for distributing the drug, according to the affidavit.

Freddie Jensen Jr. pleaded guilty a year ago to both delivery and possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to seven years in prison on each count. His father pleaded guilty in October of this year to delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a firearm and was granted suspended sentences with five years of supervised probation.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.