In the wake of an epidemic resurgence in meth labs in Tulsa, prosecutors on Friday charged three people with “felony murder” in the death of a man who was burned in a meth lab fire.
The murder charge against Amber Dawn Ketcher, 28, Christopher Stinson, 26, and Bobby Warren, 18, alleges that they caused the March 30 fire at Comanche Park Apartments by manufacturing methamphetamine.
Sean Ketcher, 28, died March 31 from injuries he suffered in that fire, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Witnesses described seeing him, engulfed in flames, running from an apartment in the Tulsa Housing Authority complex at 36th Street North and Peoria Avenue.
The felony murder charge asserts that the death occurred while the three defendants were in the commission of first-degree arson caused by manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance.
First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond said this is the first case of its kind since he has been a Tulsa County prosecutor and reflects the dangerous risk of meth production.
“This case illustrates how violent and deadly methamphetamine can be. Manufacturing methamphetamine in this way is like playing Russian roulette with your life and the life of others,” Drummond said in an e-mail statement.
Amber Ketcher, Stinson and Warren are also charged with counts of first-degree arson and manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance.
Warren was booked into the Tulsa Jail on Friday evening, but there were no records indicating that Stinson had been arrested.
Amber Ketcher, who Drummond said was Sean Ketcher’s ex-wife, was arrested earlier on child endangerment complaints after the investigation revealed that three of her children were exposed to meth being manufactured at the apartment. She is in the Tulsa Jail.
The children were placed in protective custody and prosecutors charged her with three counts of child endangerment, records show.
Warren, who is the brother of Amber Ketcher, and Stinson went to her apartment on March 30, court records show.
An investigation showed that Stinson “had a backpack with a chemistry set in it,” and he also had a container that smelled like gasoline, an assortment of glass jars and a type of bleach bottle, police reported.
Amber Ketcher also saw torches and hoses, and Stinson asked her if “he could borrow the upstairs and shake and bake,” which she had heard was a method of making methamphetamine, an affidavit by Tulsa Police Detective Cecil Piercy states.
Amber Ketcher subsequently saw smoke coming from the second story, and she heard Sean Ketcher yelling for help before he “came running downstairs on fire,” an affidavit by Detective Roger Smith states.
Warren sustained burns on his face and arms. He indicated that in a bedroom, he saw Stinson light a torch and “flames went everywhere,” according to police.
Warren said he tried to escape from the flames, but Stinson grabbed him by the shirt and threw him back into the fire, police reported.
Warren said Sean Ketcher kicked the door open and pushed him downstairs. Warren tried to help Sean, who was on fire and who said that “it was too late for him and that Warren needed to get out,” Piercy’s affidavit says.
Drummond said that “while I can’t talk about the specifics of this case, the risk people are taking in manufacturing this drug is unbelievable.’’
''No matter how stupid or dangerous the process is, they still are willing to risk injury or death just to get or sell the drug. That fact tells you how serious this problem is right now for law enforcement and for the community,” Drummond said.
Sean Ketcher’s death was the third fatality so far this year resulting from a fire caused by the meth cooking process. A fourth person, a woman, died in a fire at a building in the 1300 block of North Yale Avenue that contained a meth lab, but it has not been determined what role the meth lab played in the fire.
There have been more than 80 meth labs discovered in Tulsa this year, compared to 41 in 2008.