Nelson sentenced after absconding for two years

REED CITY — A Reed City woman who ran from authorities for more than two years after creating a meth lab in Osceola County finally was sentenced on Friday.

Patricia Nelson was sentenced to six to 20 years in prison and will be responsible for repaying the cost of her extradition, which Circuit Court Judge Ron Nichols said was between $1,100 and $1,300.

In February 2009, Nelson pleaded no contest to operating and maintaining a methamphetamine lab. This was Nelson’s second offense, and she was facing a minimum of six years in prison for the charge. A plea agreement at the time dismissed charges of operating and maintaining a lab for producing methamphetamines, possessing methamphetamines, delivering and manufacturing methamphetamines and operating a lab in the presence of a minor.

The lab was discovered when it exploded just a block and a half from G.T. Norman Elementary on Feb. 11, 2009. The explosion hospitalized two adults, but left several people in the house uninjured, including a 4-month-old infant.

Nelson, along with other co-defendants, was charged in connection with the incident.

Because Nelson absconded, never showing for her sentencing in March 2009 in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court, she could have faced double the penalty, Nichols said in court on Friday. He and Osceola County Prosecutor Jim Sims decided against doubling the penalty.

“She has jail credit coming to her, but when we take into account her past, that’s why the sentencing guidelines are so high,” Nichols said. “You’ve acted like a druggie and a crook.”

Had Nelson not absconded and instead begun her jail time when she was supposed to, she could be halfway through her sentence by now, he said.

Nelson said she wanted to have an opportunity to put her life back together.

“Your Honor, they say it’s never to late to start over,” Nelson said through tears. “I’d like to get on the right path. ... I’ve learned quite a bit from this.”