Man pleads guilty to production of marijuana

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 | 12:03 p.m. CST; updated 5:43 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 12, 2010

COLUMBIA — A man who was growing 300 marijuana plants in his home pleaded guilty Monday to the production of a controlled substance.

Steven Maurer, 34, initially pleaded not guilty in August and was scheduled to be tried on Jan. 21, according to Missouri

Maurer can be sentenced five to 15 years for the Class B felony, said Steven Berry, Boone County assistant prosecuting attorney. When Maurer pleaded guilty, he entered an open plea, which means the court can decide from the full range of punishment for the offense, Berry said.

In March, police served a search warrant at 3800 Snow Leopard Drive where Maurer was living. In the search, officers found roughly 300 marijuana plants growing behind false walls in two places in the house, according to previous Missourian reporting.

In addition to the plants, officers found fewer than 35 grams of processed marijuana, numerous items of drug paraphernalia and a .44-caliber handgun.

Police also found items related to a growing operation, including lights, fans, electrical sources, fertilizer, chemicals, tubing, potting material and water filtration systems.

Maurer was arrested on suspicion of manufacturing a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Under the conditions of the open plea, Berry will recommend Maurer serve a maximum of an eight-year sentence, and would oppose a sentence of probation. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 5, with 13th Circuit Court Judge Jodie Asel.

Maurer's attorney, Rusty Antel, declined to comment.

Maurer's co-defendant, Anthony Phillips, 39, was arrested on the same charges as Maurer. He was growing plants at a different location, but police believed they were working with each other.

Phillips has a jury trial scheduled Jan. 20. Berry is the prosecutor for both cases.

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