Fatal drug overdose case goes to jury

Closing arguments focus on how victim obtained heroin

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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What killed Adam Hurd was clear, a defense attorney said Monday.

But who killed him?

The fatal dose of heroin that eventually ended up in the hands of the 24-year-old could have come from a variety of sources, defense attorney Suzan Clark suggested in her closing argument.

“This is a young man who has a lot of connections in the drug community,” she said. “He knows where to get heroin.”

She represents Jerome Otto, a Vancouver man charged with controlled-substance homicide.

The prosecution alleges the heroin was delivered to Hurd’s girlfriend by Adam Sonnen, Otto’s roommate and drug gofer. Clark pointed out that several people had possession of the drugs before they supposedly got to Hurd.

However, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey said that because Hurd was under constant supervision by his father, he only could have gotten the heroin from his girlfriend, who always got her drugs from Sonnen and Otto.

Hurd “keeps the same names of the same suppliers,” Harvey said.

The six-day trial of Otto, 23, wrapped up Monday afternoon with closing arguments. The case went to the 12-member jury about 4 p.m. Jurors will return today to resume deliberations.

In laying out the prosecution’s case, Harvey said that even though Otto wasn’t the person who actually delivered the heroin to Hurd’s girlfriend on Aug. 20, 2011, Otto had sole possession of the drug, which he weighed and packaged and gave to Adam Sonnen for deliveries.

Harvey said Otto was guilty of being an accomplice in the controlled-substance homicide of Hurd in that he aided or assisted in the drug sale.

“Mr. Otto is a drug dealer. He deals to both Adams. One of them lives in the house. One lives outside the house,” Harvey said.

The prosecutor also pointed out Otto’s statements to a detective following Hurd’s death, where Otto admitted his heroin “probably caused the death.” Otto also laid blame on Hurd, saying Hurd “played with fire” and “when you play with fire, sometimes you get burned,” Harvey said.

In her closing argument, Clark said there was evidence that suggested Hurd could have gotten heroin from other places. For instance, while Hurd stayed in Baker City, Ore., that summer to work for a family business, his father found him with drug paraphernalia there. Hurd also was spending time with a female drug user that summer -- another potential heroin supplier, she said.

If jurors believed the state’s theory of the heroin coming from Otto, Clark said they must take into account the long and confusing chain of people who had it before it got to Hurd.

“It has to be an unbroken chain to prove proximate cause” of a person’s death, Clark said.

“We know this young man died with morphine, a metabolite of heroin, in his system,” Clark added.”That’s all we know for sure.”

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