Preliminary Hearing for Kevin Wooten Shows Repeat Offenses

Charles "Kevin" Wooten, 40, appeared in Dade Magistrate Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on drug and vehicular charges stemming from his Jan. 26 arrest atop Sand Mountain. Any charges pertaining to a stolen truck and parts of other possibly stolen vehicles found at his Porter Road address and on neighboring family property are to be considered separately when an investigation of that matter is complete.

Dade Sheriff Ray Cross had called an impromptu press conference when Wooten and a companion, Nathan Austin, were arrested on the 26th, when the recovered vehicle, a black Silverardo reported stolen the previous Sunday, was impounded and towed away to be fingerprinted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.

Dade Investigator Cindy Thurman is still working that end of the case. Meanwhile, two Dade officers on Wednesday presented evidence against Wooten on the drug and traffic charges, and they painted a picture of a serial offender in more or less constant hot water with the law.

Investigator Matthew Cole told Magistrate McCormick he knew to go downstairs to what he called the "dope room" in the basement of Wooten's house to look for drugs because: "That's where we've found narcotics every time we've been there."

The events of the 26th began when another deputy, Michael Cloud, noticed a black truck with no license plate halfway in the road and halfway in the yard, beginning to turn into 1497 Porter Road. Another officer who was also on the mountain--this was the week of the three simultaneous arson fires on Sand Mountain--confirmed he had just seen the truck driving on the public road. Cloud, who was also familiar with Wooten--"I had given the driver of that truck warnings two other times"--initiated a traffic stop.

Wooten presented Cloud a Tennessee driver's license which a computer check revealed as revoked. Wooten also had a Georgia driver's license that was not revoked, said Cloud, but: "Once you're revoked in one state you're revoked in all states except Texas," he explained.

Drug task force officers were also in the neighborhood and arrived during the arrest. Matthew Cole was one of them. "I knew Mr. Wooten from two previous arrests just within the last year," he said.

There were two Wooten houses next door to each other, he said, and the one Wooten lives in is listed as belonging to Kevin Wooten's mother though neither parent lives there. But Cole had heard that Wooten was "selling narcotics again," and he had also received a tip that Wooten's father, also named Charles Wooten, but called "Charlie," had been at the house. The elder Wooten was also of interest to the lawman. In any case, Cole knocked at the door to investigate.

He did not find Wooten Sr. but was allowed in to search by a woman who said she had been living there and helping Kevin Wooten with his young daughter. Cole did not know whether the daughter lived in the house or was in fact in Wooten's custody.

But having been allowed to search the house by the woman, Cole proceeded to the "dope room," where he found four to five grams of crystalized methamphetamine, a bong with a suspicious white residue that field-tested positive for meth, and a child's sippy-cup full of cloudy liquid that also tested positive for the drug.

"That's the first time I've seen a water bong used to smoke methamphetamine," said Cole.

Questioned by Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit prosecutor Len Gregor, Cole agreed the cloudy liquid might be water emptied from the bong.

Cole told the prosecutor he didn't know for sure if Wooten used as well as sold methamphetamine, but that he'd lost a lot of weight in the last couple of years and: "I've got my suspicions on why that is."

Magistrate McCormick bound the entire case over to Dade Superior Court, including the vehicular charges that Wooten's attorney, Philip Alosio from the Public Defender's office, asked him to dismiss.

McCormick did not set bail in this case.

Dade Superior's spring term begins in April.

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