AUGUSTA — A Hallowell man being sentenced Thursday for manufacturing methamphetamine at his home apologized for putting his neighbors in danger.

“I’m sorry for bringing my problems to your doorstep,” said Christopher Kessell, 37, at a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center.

He said he moved back to Maine to be with relatives and get a fresh start and still intends to do that when he finishes his sentence.

Kessell pleaded guilty in January to unlawful trafficking (manufacturing) of methamphetamine that occurred Oct. 5, 2016, at his home at 11 Spring St. in Hallowell.

The state and Kessell’s defense attorney, William Baghdoyan, recommended a five-year sentence with two years of probation but argued Thursday over how much time should be served initially.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Katie Sibley, wanted Kessell to serve 18 months behind bars; Baghdoyan asked Judge Tom Nale to impose only six months of initial incarceration.

According to an affidavit by Maine Drug Enforcement Agent Jonathan Richards, a search of Kessell’s home produced 17 “one pot” or “shake and bake” method production vessels that contained remnants of methamphetamine production, as well as some hydrogen chloride gas generators, battery components and other items used to make methamphetamine. Richards said he determined that Kessell, over 11 months, had made 52 pseudoephedrine purchases. That substance, contained in cold medications, is essential to the manufacture of methamphetamine. Police said Kessell’s van also contained a substance that tested positive for fentanyl.

A charge relating to possession of fentanyl was dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Nale agreed that a five-year underlying sentence was appropriate, saying Kessell had “pled to a crime that involves a meth lab and a young child in the home where this production was taking place.”

Kessell maintained he cooked the methamphetamine in a shed on the property and brought the equipment into the basement of the home to hide it only on the days when his landlord came by to pick up the trash.

“The state looks suspiciously on the claim that manufacturing was done in a shed,” Sibley said. “That makes no sense to bring all the equipment and products and store them in a basement.”

Kessell was arrested Oct. 5, 2016, after police were called to the home initially to investigate a domestic disturbance.

Kessell apologized to his family and his landlord, as well as to the neighbors.

“I want people to know I am taking responsibility for my choices and actions,” Kessel said, promising to make amends.

He said he was “a high functioning, closet drug addict” and should have requested help sooner with his addiction.

Baghdoyan said Kessell had no prior criminal record, had always been employed and has been working in the jail kitchen. He also said Kessell’s family, who came to the hearing and spoke on his behalf, promised to house and help him on his release. Baghdoyan said no one else was involved, and Sibley confirmed there were no incidents of trafficking.

Kessell said he hoped to get out of jail and be able to help raise his two sons, who now are living in Florida.

Nale ordered Kessell to serve an initial nine months, saying, “Anything greater than nine months would do more harm than good.”

Nale also urged Kessell to get counseling, a job and community support set up before he leaves jail.

“You will rehabilitate, and you will reunify with your family,” he said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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