Judge denies bond for suspect in meth lab case defendant

Joseph Michael

WOODSTOCK — A Shenandoah County man accused of running a methamphetamine laboratory did so while free on bond on similar charges.

Joseph Malachi Michael, 36, of 8275 Orkney Grade, Mount Jackson, appeared in Shenandoah County General District Court on felony charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and conspiracy to make the drug.

Judge Amy B. Tisinger told Michael she would not set a bond for his release because he was already out on bond on previous charges. Tisinger said Michael’s attorney on earlier charges, David Hensley, would represent him on the new charges.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristen Zalenski appeared for the prosecution. Michael’s attorney was not present.

Tisinger ordered Michael to appear in the court for a preliminary hearing April 10.

Julie Gifft

The judge explained that, under state law, a presumption against granting a bond exists when a person already out on bond on a felony charge is accused of committing new felony offenses. However, Hensley can ask the court to reconsider a bond for his client prior to the preliminary hearing, Tisinger said. The defense would need to present facts, testimony or circumstances to override the presumption.

Joseph remains held at the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail.

Agents with the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force searched Michael’s home and found a “working meth lab” last Wednesday, according to information from Shenandoah County Sheriff Maj. Scott Proctor. Authorities arrested Michael and Julie Mae Gifft, 30, also of the Orkney Grade address on that day. Gifft stands charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and conspiracy to make the drug.

Gifft was granted release on a $10,000 secured bond on Friday, according to court records. Gifft is scheduled to appear in the general district court for a preliminary hearing on April 24.

Michael was already charged in Shenandoah County Circuit Court with offenses related to methamphetamine production. A grand jury had indicted Michael on Oct. 15 on three counts of manufacturing methamphetamine, two counts of allowing a minor or incapacitated person to be present during the manufacture or attempted manufacture of methamphetamine and one count each of possession of drugs, possession of precursors used to make methamphetamine, having a child under 15 present when manufacturing methamphetamine, abuse and/or neglect of a child and committing cruelty and injury to a child.

Authorities accused Michael of committing these earlier offenses in December 2013. Michael had been scheduled to appear in the circuit court for earlier charges on Wednesday — the day of his arrest. Michael is now scheduled to appear on these charges May 6.

Gifft is also charged in Frederick County General District Court with possession of marijuana and shoplifting from last year. She had been released on a summons to appear in court on these misdemeanor charges.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com