Woman sentenced to 68 months in man's heroin overdose death

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: May 3, 2012, 6:16 PM

 

One of two people who sold a fatal dose of heroin to a Vancouver man was sentenced Thursday to 68 months in prison.

Brittany N. Sonnen, 26, of Vancouver pleaded guilty April 20 to controlled-substance homicide and possession of a controlled substance.

At her Thursday sentencing hearing, Sonnen’s attorney told the judge that Sonnen’s drug dealing in the summer of 2011 was a result of her intense heroin addiction and she was remorseful for her friend’s death. Adam Hurd, 24, died of a heroin overdose Aug. 24, 2011.

“She’s a drug addict,” defense attorney Clark Fridley said.

Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle went with the prosecution’s recommendation of the high end of the sentencing range, but said he would allow Sonnen to apply for treatment within prison.

“If you don’t conquer this drug, it will conquer you,” Wulle told Sonnen.

Sonnen’s boyfriend and co-defendant, Jerome Otto, was convicted by a Superior Court jury on Tuesday of controlled-substance homicide. Jurors returned a special finding that Otto showed an “egregious lack of remorse,” which gives the judge the option to impose an exceptional punishment at Otto’s sentencing on May 29.

As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors dropped the aggravating factor of lack of remorse against Sonnen.

Sonnen and Otto ran a drug operation out of their Vancouver house, and witnesses said they frequently sold drugs to Hurd and his girlfriend. Brittany Sonnen’s brother, a drug courier for the two, sold Hurd’s girlfriend $60 worth of black tar heroin — knowing the drugs would go to Hurd, according to court testimony.

Hurd was found unconscious at his father’s house the day after the drug sale, and died in a hospital three days later.

Addressing the court on Thursday, Hurd’s father, Terry Hurd, said he understood his son, like other drug addicts, could get heroin other places. But he said Sonnen and Otto knew his son had been in treatment three times before, had overdosed twice and was trying to stay clean.

“Why would they put their own greed for money ahead of” Adam, Terry Hurd questioned, pointing out that the defendants were friends with his son.

The father suggested that had the two not sold to Hurd, “it would have brought me more time with him.”

“Dealers need to be held responsible for their actions,” he said.

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