Man pleads guilty to stealing mercury from abandoned lab, selling and spilling it in 4 places across Houston, Spring

Christopher Melder appears in court Dec. 18, 2019.
Christopher Melder appears in court Dec. 18, 2019. (KPRC 2)

HOUSTON – The man accused of spilling mercury in four separate locations in west Houston and Spring in December 2019 pleaded guilty to two charges and will face three years in prison.

Christopher Melder, 19, was arrested and charged after he broke into an abandoned Houston lab and stole mercury late last year. He faced a burglary of a building charge and a felony hazardous waste charge and he pleaded guilty to both Friday.

A judge sentenced Melder to 6 months in prison for the burglary charge which will run concurrently with his sentence of 3 years for the hazardous waste charge.

On Dec. 13, 2019, Melder broke into the GeoChem labs and stole mercury that he saw was labeled as such. Evidence showed he tried to sell it and spilled it in four locations, including gas stations in west Houston and at a hospital in Spring.

TIMELINE: Where and how the stolen mercury was spilled in multiple places

“The defendant played with the mercury in his hands during his sales,” a court official said, “and allowed the mercury to spill to the pavement, but made no attempt to clean it up the hazardous material.”

In an exclusive interview, Melder previously told KPRC 2 he sold the mercury to two people but only made $40 for it.

Melder said he talked to friends about it. “They called it liquid silver and said it was cool to play with,” he said.