Tulsa man acquitted in fatal meth fire
BY BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 26, 2013
1/29/13 at 1:48 PM
Tulsa County jurors acquitted a man Friday of murder and other counts tied to the death of a child in a fire that investigators said was meth-lab related.
The jury found Jeffrey Wayne McBride not guilty of felony murder, first-degree arson and manufacturing a controlled dangerous substance - methamphetamine.
The not-guilty verdicts did not earn McBride a release from custody.
He was sentenced earlier this month to 25 years in prison in a different meth-related case.
McBride, 48, faced a life prison sentence - either with or without the possibility of parole - if he had been found guilty of murder.
Tulsa County prosecutors charged McBride, Jacob A. Bell, 36, and Jennifer Michelle Jennings, 27, with acting in concert with each other and causing the death of Jennings' son, Ayden Jennings, by committing arson in the process of manufacturing meth on Nov. 10, 2011.
Ayden, who was six days shy of being 15 months old, was found dead in a duplex after a fire at the residence in the 1400 block of West Admiral Boulevard.
A medical examiner determined that Ayden died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries.
Bell, 36, and Jennings, Ayden's mother, testified as prosecution witnesses at McBride's trial.
Prosecutors Kali Strain and John Salmon maintained that evidence indicated that McBride was cooking meth at the residence that morning.
McBride did not testify.
Jurors saw and heard his November 2011 interview with police in which he said he took meth to Bell and Jennings' residence to get high but did not cook meth there that morning.
Testimony indicated that with two children in the duplex - Ayden and Bell's 5-year-old son - all three defendants used meth.
Assistant Public Defender Gregg Graves, representing McBride, said evidence indicated that it was Bell who was cooking at the duplex.
Bell admitted that he was responsible for remnants of a previous meth lab that were in a freezer at the duplex, according to Graves.
In the case that resulted in a 25-year prison term, McBride pleaded guilty in December to endeavoring to manufacture or possess meth on Nov. 12, 2011 - two days after the fatal fire - at a residence in the 1000 block of North College Avenue.
McBride has Tulsa County convictions for possession of a controlled drug, kidnapping and unauthorized use of a vehicle, records show.
Original Print Headline: Man acquitted in fatal meth fire
Bill Braun 918-581-8455
Jeffrey Wayne McBride: Prosecutors charged him with murder and arson in the November 2011 death of a 15-month-old after a fire in a west Tulsa duplex that they claimed was started when McBride was manufacturing methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty in December to endeavoring to manufacture or possess meth two days after the fatal fire
Ayden Jennings: The toddler died after becoming trapped in a burning duplex