Eric Byers | Bingham County Jail
BLACKFOOT — A Montana man is going to prison after throwing a safe full of methamphetamine out of a car as he and a woman tried to escape from law enforcement.
Eric Byers, 49, received a five- to 15-year prison sentence from District Judge Darren Simpson on Aug. 31 after previously pleading guilty to felony trafficking of meth. As part of a plea agreement, Bingham County prosecutors dropped a felony eluding charge, a persistent violator enhancement and a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge.
Idaho State Police reports show troopers spotted Byers trying to avoid eye contact while driving through Blackfoot on Interstate 15. When Byers did not use a turn signal when getting off the interstate, a trooper pulled him over. The trooper walked up to the car to talk with Byers and spotted 51-year-old Nicole Baker, of Blackfoot, curled up in the front seat. The trooper reports Baker opening her eyes then closing them to act like she was sleeping.
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The trooper reported smelling burnt marijuana and said he was going to use a K9 that could detect illegal drugs. The trooper got the dog, which reportedly indicated the smell of drugs. When Byers learned the trooper would be going through the car with a Bingham County Sheriff’s deputy who just arrived, he is alleged to have pushed on the accelerator and speed up to around 50 mph through a parking lot.
Nicole Baker | Bingham County Jail
Law enforcement gave chase and Byers eventually turned onto Idaho Highway 39 at speeds around 75 mph in a 45 mph zone. As the car went around a corner, the trooper saw a large object fly out the window with blue packaging all over the road.
As Byers slowed down, the trooper hit his car into Byers’ using a PIT maneuver (pursuit intervention technique), which stopped the vehicle. As the trooper commanded Byers to get out, he saw Baker now in the back seat and both were placed into custody.
Investigators searched the car and reported a meth pipe in the driver’s side door. There was also blue wrapping paper in the backseat and a pink purse in the trunk with meth and another meth pipe, according to court documents.
Detectives in the area searched where the trooper saw something fly out the window. It’s reported they found a large Sentry Safe weighing around 23 pounds on the passenger side of the road. Police suspect Baker threw the safe out of the car during the chase.
Byers gave police a key to the safe which troopers opened. Inside a bag in the safe, troopers uncovered what they called a large amount of suspected meth in separate bags. When investigators weighed the meth, it totaled over 927.63 grams or over two pounds of meth.
In addition to the time in prison, Byers was ordered to pay $16,076.50 in fees and fines.
Baker pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance. However, she failed to show up to her sentencing on Aug. 23 and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
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