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Provo • A former BYU student accused of operating a methamphetamine lab which he had previously claimed was an herbal extract and soap-making operation was sentenced Wednesday to 60 days in jail.
Bryce Cazier, 22, pleaded guilty in January to second-degree felony possession of a precursor to a clandestine lab. He was originally facing a first-degree felony charge of operation of a clandestine laboratory, but the charge was reduced as part of a plea deal.
In the seven months since he pleaded guilty, Cazier has been receiving treatment, including through an in-patient program in southern Utah, according to defense attorney Jere Reneer. He has held down a job, Reneer told 4th District Judge Lynn Davis, and is now a student at Salt Lake Community College.
Reneer asked that his client be allowed to serve the jail time recommended by Adult Probation and Parole using a GPS monitoring program, pointing to a letter written by Cazier's therapist that said an extended jail sentence "would be more detrimental to his progress."
But Deputy Utah County Attorney Jared Perkins asked for the recommended 120 days in jail to be imposed, arguing that a crime like Cazier's should not go unpunished.
"Setting up a meth lab in a dorm room with dangerous chemicals is one of those types of crimes that the state believes should be punished, and not merely in a way that is most conducive to Mr. Cazier's personal rehabilitation," Perkins said.
Perkins added that a jail sentence will send the message to the community that if someone creates a homemade meth lab, they will be punished.
But Davis opted to order Cazier to spend 60 days in jail, and allowed him to report to the Utah County jail in September after the summer semester is over. He also ordered Cazier to serve 36 months probation, telling him that he would not impose another recommended 60 days in jail because Cazier had sought treatment. Cazier faced a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
"This could have been very, very serious," the judge told Cazier. "It could have burned down the complex. It could have endangered the life of others. But it did not, gratefully."
The judge also told Cazier that he was a unique defendant, telling him, "I just don't get BYU students here."
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 has said Cazier was a freshman at BYU, and recently finished a mission to Wisconsin for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The defense attorney has said that his client was, in fact, making soap in his room but also was experimenting with making drugs.
"He was making soap," Reneer said in January. "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."