Opening statements heard in controlled-substance homicide trial

Prosecutors say defendant provided fatal hit of heroin

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: April 24, 2012, 8:16 PM

 

Adam Hurd’s father made every effort to keep his son away from heroin, a deputy prosecutor told jurors Tuesday in the trial of a Vancouver man accused of supplying Hurd with a fatal dose.

Hurd lived at home in Vancouver, and his father restricted his Internet and phone access. His father also sent him to work for a family business in Baker City, Ore., during the summer of 2011 to isolate him from other users, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey said in his opening statement.

Back in Vancouver last August, the 24-year-old obtained heroin from his girlfriend, who purchased it from defendant Jerome Otto and co-defendant Brittany Sonnen, Harvey said.

That was the fatal hit, the prosecution contended.

Otto, 22, is on trial on a charge of controlled-substance homicide in Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle’s courtroom.

Harvey gave his opening statement and began calling witnesses Tuesday. He said he plans to call Sonnen, Otto’s girlfriend, also charged in Hurd’s death. Sonnen accepted a plea bargain late Friday in exchange for her testimony at Otto’s trial.

Otto’s attorney, Suzan Clark, said she was reserving her opening statement until the state rested. She told the judge before trial that her client’s defense was “general denial” of the allegations.

Harvey told the panel of 12 jurors that to prove the controlled-substance homicide charge, he will show the defendant delivered the drug and the victim died as a direct result of that sale.

Harvey also asked the jury to consider the aggravating factor of Otto’s alleged lack of remorse. “There was absolutely a complete lack of remorse on Mr. Otto’s part of his involvement and the passing of Mr. Hurd,” he said.

Otto lived at a house in Vancouver with his girlfriend, Sonnen, and her brother. The house was known as a place to purchase heroin, the deputy prosecutor told jurors. Otto and Sonnen were familiar with Hurd and knew he had overdosed before, Harvey said.

In August, Hurd’s girlfriend purchased heroin at the house — which Harvey contended the defendants knew would go to Hurd.

Vancouver police officer Eddie Alba testified at trial that he was dispatched to Hurd’s home the evening of Aug. 21, 2011, for a report of a possible overdose. He found the 24-year-old lying unconscious in the hallway outside the bathroom.

Hurd was at home during a barbecue and went to the bathroom to apparently use the heroin. He was then found not breathing. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. He died three days later.

Harvey told jurors that in an interview with police after Hurd’s death, Otto admitted the drug that was sold “probably was the reason he died.”

The trial is expected to conclude Thursday.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.