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Somerset County couple charged with setting up 'marijuana grow' operation

| Friday, May 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Somerset County man and woman are charged with operating a “marijuana grow,” which police learned about while investigating a report of a domestic assault this week.

Mary Elizabeth Beeman, 24, and Johnathan Richard Barr, 21, both of Somerset, were charged on Thursday before District Judge Susan Mankamyer with possession, manufacture and use/possession of drug paraphernalia.

The charges were filed by state police Trooper Matthew Jones in connection with a marijuana growing operation in sections of Boswell and Jenner Township.

Beeman and Barr are accused of planting 28 marijuana plants in several plots of the heavily wooded area.

Beeman and Barr “hauled potting soil and paraphernalia along with the plants into the wooded area and planted them. (They) cut down several trees for sunlight to reach the plots and dammed up water in order to water (plants),” Jones said in a news release.

Information on the marijuana grow followed an investigation into an incident on Monday at 123 Huston St., Apartment 185, Somerset.

According to an affidavit filed with Mankamyer, borough police officers found Beeman bleeding from scratches on her chest and a gash to her left eye.

After she was taken to Somerset Hospital for treatment, Barr turned himself in to officers at the apartment. He had several fresh scratches and raised marks on his neck and back and told police Beeman attacked him.

Each was charged with simple assault and harassment, court records show.

In an affidavit filed with Mankamyer, Jones said he assisted borough police and, through the course of the investigation, was informed of the “marijuana grow operation.”

Jones said he saw the plants growing in two plots.

“I also observed potting soil, potting soil bags, planters, shovel and a hammer. ... (Barr) related that it was the grow operation run by (Beeman) and that he had visited it with (Beeman) numerous times,” Jones said.

Interviewed at the county prison, Beeman confessed to setting up the grow operation with Barr, according to the affidavit.

Trooper Gregg Norton, spokesman for the Somerset barracks, said a monetary value for the marijuana can't be determined until the plants are processed.

“That (28 plants) is a good amount of marijuana,” Norton said.

Beeman and Barr face preliminary hearings on July 10 before Mankamyer. A Somerset County Prison spokesman said the two remain jailed on $20,000 bail each, following their earlier charges.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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