Deliveryman describes deal for fatal heroin

Defense suggests that witness made the sale himself

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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Testimony on Friday in the trial of a Vancouver man accused of controlled-substance homicide centered on the crux of the state’s case: the source of the heroin that killed Adam Hurd, 24.

Adam Sonnen, the roommate of defendant Jerome Otto, now 23, told jurors that he was the gofer for Otto’s heroin sales. However, Otto’s defense attorney reiterated in her cross-examination that Sonnen actually made the sale.

Sonnen, who was not charged in connection to Hurd’s death, said that in the summer of 2011, he lived with his sister, Brittany Sonnen, and her boyfriend, Otto. Instead of being charged rent, Adam Sonnen said, he would run heroin for Otto’s customers.

“Did you have a job?” defense attorney Suzan Clark asked.

“I worked for my sister and Jerry. That was my job,” he said.

Adam Sonnen said Otto had “sole possession” of the heroin and that Otto and Brittany Sonnen were normally the people in the house who weighed and packaged the drugs.

Adam Sonnen said he sold to Hurd’s girlfriend that summer, with the knowledge that she occasionally purchased the drugs for her boyfriend when he was in town. Hurd’s father was having Hurd work in Eastern Oregon to isolate him from drug users.

The afternoon of Aug. 21, 2011, Sonnen delivered $60 worth of heroin to Hurd’s girlfriend, Emily Degenhart.

The next evening, Hurd was found unconscious at his father’s home, next to leftover heroin and a syringe, jurors heard earlier in the trial. He died in a hospital three days later.

In his questioning, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey pressed Adam Sonnen as to where he obtained the heroin.

“Who was the boss? Who told you what to do?” Harvey asked.

“Jerry,” Sonnen said, referring to Otto.

Harvey asked Sonnen whether Otto knew that the drugs went to Hurd. Sonnen said Otto was aware.

In her cross-examination, defense attorney Clark questioned Sonnen on whether he ever saw Hurd in the summer of 2011 and how often Otto and Brittany Sonnen sold to Hurd’s girlfriend themselves. He said he did not see Hurd that summer, and that Otto and Brittany Sonnen had not sold too often to Degenhart.

“Because Emily was your customer, right?” Clark said.

“Yes, I believe so,” Sonnen said.

Before Sonnen’s testimony, Degenhart took the stand and told jurors that she purchased her heroin only from Adam Sonnen.

Friday’s trial testimony concluded with Clark’s cross-examination of Adam Sonnen. The trial will continue Monday, with the prosecution’s final witness, Otto’s co-defendant, Brittany Sonnen. She accepted a plea agreement to controlled-substance homicide in exchange for her testimony against Otto.

Controlled-substance homicide is defined as delivering a drug that ultimately causes a person’s death.

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