WKEB Local News

Zarins Convicted

Zarins Convicted  Wednesday, January 31, 2024


  A 51-year-old Athens man Matthew Zarins appeared in Taylor County Circuit Court on Wednesday, January 31st for a plea hearing and has been convicted for his role in operating a meth lab that resulted in a woman’s death.


  As part of a plea agreement, Zariins pleaded guilty to homicide by negligent use of a dangerous weapon. Four other charges related to manufacturing meth were dismissed but will be considered during his sentencing hearing on April 18. By agreeing to the terms of the plea agreement, he’ll avoid a jury trial.


  51 year old Jennifer Johnson of Stanley died Jan. 12th, 2023 at a Madison hospital due to the injuries she suffered iin the incident.  Johnson suffered burns to 85% of her body. Zarins was also treated for burns.


  The fire was reported on Jan. 11th, 2023 at a property on Clark Drive in the town of Maplehurst.


  According to the criminal complaint, authorities found many items consistent with manufacturing methamphetamine in and outside the property. During an interview with investigators, Zarins said he was trying to start a fire with wet wood, and they escaped out a window.


  According to court documents, special investigators tested a plastic bottle and hose laying outside on the ground. The hose tested positive for hydrochloric acid which is a necessary ingredient during the manufacturing of methamphetamine gassing process.


  The criminal complaint says in an interview Zarins denied knowing anything or being involved in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.  He admitted to smoking methamphetamine five days prior to when he was asked by authorities. 


  Zarins faces more than 13 years in prison at sentencing.




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