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Man Accused in Meth Lab Fire Appears in Court

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 294

His bond was set this week at an amount lower than what prosecutors wanted, but now the attorney for a Galesburg man accused of causing a fire by making an illegal drug wants the bond even lower than that.

27-year-old Richard Garza was in Knox County Circuit Court this morning for a first appearance with his public defender Karl Johnson on a Class-X felony charge of Aggravated Participation in Methamphetamine Production.

Garza turned himself in on Monday. Prosecutors say he was helping make meth at a house in the 800 block of South Kellogg Street a week ago Thursday, when a bottle containing meth ingredients blew up, causing the fire.

Crews spent several hours at the scene putting the fire out, and the house is believed to be a total loss.

Garza reportedly told investigators that he didn’t make methamphetamine at the home occupied by 46-year-old Michelle Esp, but rather he was there to simply buy the drug.

Garza will be back in court July 29th for a preliminary hearing, and for a hearing on a motion to reduce his $75-thousand bond. In the meantime, Garza remains jailed.

Esp, also faces felony meth charges in the case, and will be back in court Monday for preliminary and bond reduction hearings.