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Provo • A BYU student accused of operating a methamphetamine lab — which he had previously claimed was an herbal extract and soap-making operation — pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced charge.

Bryce Cazier, 21, was charged in 4th District Court with operation of a clandestine laboratory, a first-degree felony.

He pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to a reduced count of second-degree felony of possession of a precursor to a clandestine lab.

He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced March 25, but Deputy Utah County Attorney Jared Perkins said after the hearing that prosecutors will suggest he spend time in the county jail, not the prison.

Cazier's attorney, Jere Reneer, said Wednesday outside of court that his client was, in fact, making soap in his room — but also was experimenting with making drugs.

"He was making soap," Reneer said. "He was also making the extracts from the different oils … He also had some naughty stuff in there. It was just a chemistry experiment … He just had the stuff there, and you can't do that. He knew that before he did it and he knows it more so now."

Reneer told Judge Lynn Davis that Cazier is going into a treatment program in southern Utah prior to his sentencing date.

Perkins said outside of court that prosecutors opted for a plea deal because Cazier was "willing to admit it wasn't just soap-making."

"It really does look like he was messing around," Perkins said. "Trying it out for his own personal consumption."

On Nov. 6, Cazier accidentally started a small fire in his room — located in an apartment which houses students across the street from the Brigham Young University campus — and his roommates noticed "suspicious circumstances" inside when they helped put out the blaze, according to the court documents.

The next day, the roommates picked the lock on Cazier's room while he was out and found chemicals, tubing and other "items of concern," the court documents add.

Police called in the Drug Enforcement Administration, and agents found empty blister packets of pseudoephedrine, acetone, lithium, drain cleaner, lighter fluid, tubing, filters, a blender with a white powdery substance and digital scales, among other items, in the man's room. The agents told police that the lab was capable of making meth.

Reneer said Cazier was a freshman at BYU, and recently finished a mission to Wisconsin for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Twitter: @jm_miller