Lostine man charged with growing 161 marijuana plants pleads not guilty

By Katy Nesbitt April 24, 2014 01:05 pm

ENTERPRISE — A Lostine man charged with growing 161 marijuana plants and endangering his six children pleaded not guilty to all counts in Wallowa County Circuit Court Wednesday morning.

Jay Butzien failed to appear for his plea hearing earlier this month. When he did not show up for the time scheduled, Judge Brian Dretke called his lawyer, Ann Morrison, to ask where he was. Morrison told Dretke, Butzien had been admitted to Wallowa Memorial Hospital that morning.

Dretke called the hospital and it was confirmed that Butzien was indeed in the hospital. Butzien asked Morrison to attain a plea from Butzien and deliver it to the court. Butzien failed to comply with Dretke’s request, but did appear in court to enter his plea in person.

Dretke asked the court to schedule a three-day trial for Butzien, who is up on charges of unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful manufacture of marijuana, six counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, six counts of reckless endangering, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm. The charges stem from an Oct. 24 arrest when 161 marijuana plants and grow equipment were discovered after Butzien was stopped and cited.

Butzien’s wife, Angela Eckhardt, is on probation for unlawful possession of marijuana, unlawful manufacture of marijuana, six counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, six counts of reckless endangering and frequenting a place where controlled substance are used. 

See more in Friday's edition of The Observer.