Sunday, June 13, 2021
June 13, 2021

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Woman pleads guilty in meth overdose death of man

Problems in case lead to reduced charges


A Vancouver woman accused of causing the death of a Skamania County man in August 2013 by selling him methamphetamine pleaded guilty Thursday to reduced charges after a prosecutor discovered problems with the case.

In a negotiated agreement, Andrea Thomas, 43, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to attempted delivery of methamphetamine and tampering with physical evidence. She is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.

Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino dismissed charges of controlled substance homicide and three counts of tampering with a witness because the witness, Diana Braden, who allegedly saw the methamphetamine transaction between Thomas and the victim, John Cantwell, 40, has credibility and possible mental health issues. Cantwell died Aug. 10, 2013, of a methamphetamine overdose.

Gasperino said three DNA profiles on the plastic bag containing the methamphetamine that killed Cantwell didn’t match Thomas’ DNA profile.

Braden told Washougal police that she had overheard a phone conversation in which Cantwell asked Thomas to get him drugs, according to a court affidavit. Braden said she also saw Thomas sell the drugs to Cantwell shortly before his death, the affidavit says.

“As we went through the discovery process, it came to light that (Braden) has had dozens of police contacts over the last several years, many of which included allegations that were unfounded,” Gasperino said.

In addition, Braden was charged last month with violating a domestic violence no-contact order. Her attorney requested that she undergo a competency evaluation because of concerns about her mental health.

“There was a question about whether she would even be competent to testify,” Gasperino said.

Gasperino said he and Thomas’ attorney, Louis Byrd Jr., will recommend a sentence of 400 days, which is the amount of time she already served in the Clark County Jail while her case was pending.

“We felt the risk of a potential acquittal warranted us making the offer we made and getting some accountability out of the case,” Gasperino said.