By Kirk Starratt
A judge has yet to rule on whether video evidence given during a voir dire will be admissible in a trial.
Kyle David James Fredericks, 23, of Somerset, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and trafficking a substance represented or held out to be hydromorphone in Berwick on March 18, 2011. The charges were laid last year in relation to the death of Joshua Graves following a house party in Berwick. Fredericks pled not guilty to the charges June 11, 2012.
The court heard evidence Jan. 8 and 9 as part of a voir dire. Crown attorney Bill Ferguson said that Judge Alan Tufts doesn’t have to rule on the admissibility of the evidence given in the hearing until he has heard all the evidence in the case in its totality.
The voir dire has concluded and the Crown has concluded its case. The matters have been adjourned to Jan. 16 for the trial continuation.
Also during the trial, Joseph Fraser testified that he saw Graves drinking from a bottle of rum at the party. Fraser testified he had purchased dilaudid at the party, but from another individual, Bradley Cameron Waye. Fraser said he snorted dilaudid at the party and drank half a 40-ounce bottle of rum.
Fraser said he didn’t see Fredericks with any drugs, but he saw Graves with a pill crusher that had been handed to him by Fredericks.
There was some confusion on the part of Fraser when asked by defense attorney Chris Manning under cross examination if he had initially been given the information by Fredericks in a phone conversation or in person that Fredericks had provided the dilaudid Graves had taken. Fraser said he does recall a conversation in a vehicle where Fredericks said Graves got the dilaudid from Fredericks.
“I’m 100 per cent sure he told me he gave Josh the pill,” Fraser said.
Fraser said both he and Fredericks were upset because both had lost a good friend in Graves.
Also testifying was Brittany Balcom, the girlfriend of Joshua Graves. She testified she didn't suspect Graves had taken drugs until they had arrived home to her house following the party.
She left him to sleep downstairs and went to work the next morning. She later asked someone via text message to check on Graves, who was late getting up and around. Balcom called 911 and rushed home.
She said the quart bottle of rum he had the night of the party was still half full and sat in her fridge untouched for about a year before she gave it to police as part of their investigation. Balcom said she wasn't aware of Graves taking any other drugs or drinking any other alcohol the night of the house party.
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She said Graves could walk when they got a drive home from the party and could talk, but wasn't making much sense.
"When we left I thought he was really, really drunk," she said.
She later thought Graves might be on drugs. He was very pale and his pupils were small.
The court heard from forensic pathologist and medical examiner Marnie Wood as the trial continued Jan. 9. Wood said she performed an autopsy on the body of Graves March 20, 2011. Tissues tested came back positive for hydromorphone and ethanol, drinking alcohol. The cause of death was determined to be acute combined hydromorphone and alcohol intoxication.
"I'd not expect the alcohol level to be fatal by itself," Wood said.
She said the combination of the two drugs increase the likelihood of a fatal outcome, as both work in a similar way to slow breathing and brain function.
Wood said the exact time of death couldn't be determined. The death has been certified as an accident.
There was 121 mg of alcohol per deciliter of blood in Graves' system at the time if his death and 11 nano grams of hydromorphone per ml of blood.
Wood said the hydromorphone on its own could have been enough to cause death, but a fatal dose on its own typically ranges between 20 and 1,200 nano grams per ml. Wood said she suspects the concentration of hydromorphone in Graves' system peaked at a higher level before the time of his death. In combination with alcohol, the hydromorphone could become fatal at a lower dose.
Members of Graves’ family were present for the court proceedings Jan. 8 and 9. Amy Graves, sister of Joshua Graves, said she hadn't been surprised by any of the testimony to that point. Amy has been working to raise awareness of problems surrounding prescription drug abuse since her brother's death.
Bradley Cameron Waye, 23, of Wilmot, is also charged with trafficking a substance represented or held out to be hydromorphone in Berwick on March 18, 2011. He was called by the Crown to testify Jan. 8, but wasn’t present. A warrant was granted for his arrest, but Waye showed up at court on his own without being arrested the following morning.
However, the Crown decided not to call Waye to testify.
The court has granted an exclusion order preventing witnesses from being present for the testimony of others.
Fredericks is charged also with escaping lawful custody and failing to comply with his undertaking in Berwick Sept. 18, 2012. Fredericks has pled not guilty to these charges, but a trial date has yet to be set.