A Centre Hall man accused of operating a methamphetamine lab, making terroristic threats and a firearms charge stemming from an incident last July pleaded guilty to the offenses Friday.
The plea entered by Duane Custred Jr., 46, was spur-of-the-moment. The proceeding Friday was scheduled to be a nonjury trial before Judge Jonathan D. Grine. Shortly before the trial was to begin, it was decided that Senior Judge J. Michael Williamson, of Clinton County, would handle the case due to a scheduling conflict with Grine.
While waiting for Williamson to arrive, Custred told public defender Patrick Klena that he wanted to plead guilty to the offenses. After he arrived, the judge asked Custred why he had changed his mind.
“I think I’m better off doing this,” he replied.
Custred was accused of threatening family members with a gun on the evening of July 21, according to court documents. State police arrived and discovered that Custred was not permitted to have a firearm because of a prior conviction.
Troopers discovered an operational meth lab and materials used to make the drug in a shed on the property, police said.
Klena said Custred used the lab to produce meth for himself, not to sell to others.
The agreement recommended a sentence of 6-15 years in state prison for the charges. Williamson tentatively set sentencing for late March.
Klena said Custred reasonably weighed his options and decided to take the plea.
“He was facing a far lengthier sentence if he was convicted than by taking the plea agreement,” Klena said.