A Murphy man who triggered an investigation into his own drug-dealing activities admitted in Graham County Superior Court to trafficking methamphetamine.
Ronnie Edmund Litton, 32, will spend at least 70 months and up to 93 months in prison after entering a guilty plea in early March, District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said.
Litton, in December 2020, told the Graham County Sheriff’s Office that someone had stolen and set fire to a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado. The truck was burned in front of a U.S. Forest Service gate on Ledbetter Road.
A deputy responded to Litton’s arson-and-theft report and requested identification. Litton told the officer his driver’s license had burned in the truck. He provided a false date of birth and a fictitious name, calling himself Chris Russell.
After other officers had arrived, Litton unwittingly referred to himself by his actual first name, telling them his mother had told him: “Ronnie, I want you to get my truck back.”
Sheriff’s Capt. Joshua Wooten responded, “Who is Ronnie?” Litton switched to another fictitious name, this time identifying himself to officers as Ronnie Russell.
“While I was speaking with Ronnie, he kept changing his story about how the truck got there and how he found it,” Capt. Wooten said in his report.
Meanwhile, two Graham County Sheriff’s Office detectives followed footprints that started at the truck and continued along a Forest Service road. The footprints led detectives to 28.3 grams of methamphetamine tucked into a cigarette box.
Litton eventually admitted he had thrown a lit T-shirt onto the pickup truck’s front seat and set the vehicle on fire. He also acknowledged the methamphetamine was his.
“I asked him why he did that (set fire to the truck), and he advised he was high and felt like the truck being stolen was going to be pinned on him,” Capt. Wooten wrote in his report.
The vehicle belonged to a Lee County, Virginia woman. Earlier, Litton had attempted without success to sell her vehicle to a Graham County resident.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Bill Coward ordered Litton pay $50,000 restitution in addition to serving active time.
Assistant District Attorney Caleb Decker prosecuted the case.