Three arrested in courtroom drug exchange

By Abby Morris-Frye
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  A Carter County woman, her husband and her mother-in-law were all arrested Thursday afternoon after the husband and mother-in-law were reportedly caught sneaking a controlled substance to the woman, who is an inmate, while she was in court.
  Melinda Combs Garland, 32, 171 John Taylor Road, was arrested by Carter County Sheriff's Department L.C. Tester and charged with the possession of a Schedule II narcotic. Her husband, Timothy Garland, 30, of the same address, was charged with the delivery of a Schedule II narcotic and the conspiracy to deliver a Schedule II narcotic. Her mother-in-law, Shirley Garland, 53, 956 Rangewood Road, Piney Flats, was charged with the delivery of a Schedule II narcotic and the conspiracy to deliver a Schedule II narcotic.
  According to reports, an unidentified subject advised police officers that she had witnessed Melinda Garland receive a soft drink bottle and drink the substance in it. "She then heard Melinda ask her husband, Tim Garland, how many milligrams were in it," states CCSD Sgt. L.C. Tester in his report. "At that time, she (the witness) notified Lt. (Forest) Sharpe and Sgt. (Dean) Jones. They retrieved the Mountain Dew bottle in the men's bathroom outside the courtroom."
  At that time, according to reports, Sharpe and Jones notified CCSD Investigator Todd Hamm and Tester of the incident.
  "Hamm and I spoke with Shirley Garland, Tim's mother. She advised that around 5:30 a.m., she, Tim, Tim's father and Tim and Melinda's 4-year-old child went to Marion, N.C., to the methadone clinic to get Tim's methadone," states Tester in his report. "They came back into Tennessee and stopped to buy a Mountain Dew in order to put one of Tim's methadone doses in it and give it to Melinda in court."
  Shirley Garland then advised officers that she took one of Timothy Garland's methadone doses and poured it into a Mountain Dew bottle while at Timothy Garland's residence and then they proceeded on to court.
  "She further advised that when they were in court, she handed Melinda the Mountain Dew bottle with methadone in it to her at which time Melinda drank it," states Tester in his report. "She stated that Melinda had asked her on a previous visit at the Johnson County Jail, to bring her something to help her rest."
  CCSD Sgt. Audrey Covington interviewed Timothy Garland and he stated that his mother had placed the methadone in the soft drink and that his mother had also handed the soft drink to Melinda Garland while she was in court. He also stated that after his wife drank the soft drink, that he threw the bottle away in the men's bathroom at the courthouse.
  Melinda Garland was later charged with assault on an officer. According to a report by CCSD Deputy Fred Sluder, while officers were explaining the narcotics offense she was being charged with in connection with the incident in court, she became belligerent. Sluder states in his report that when he was opening the door to the holding cell which Melinda Garland was in, she pushed the door open causing the door to strike him in the arm. Sluder then charged Melinda Garland with assault on an officer.