One year after 14-year-old Pauviera Linson was found dead in her St. Paul home from an overdose of codeine and methadone, two men who gave her the drinks spiked with the drugs at a party in Burnsville were charged in Dakota County District Court. They were charged Friday not with her death but with third-degree drug possession and furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Jacob R. Sawyer, 20, of St. Paul, and Robert C. Kibble, 26, of Farmington, were charged by summons, meaning they have not yet made initial court appearances. They were arrested by St. Paul police a year ago and released pending autopsy results on the girl.
Representatives of the Dakota and Ramsey County attorneys’ offices explained Friday why the men did not face more serious charges.
Dakota County Attorney’s office spokeswoman Monica Jensen said that because the girl died in another county, Dakota County could only bring charges regarding the drug possession and underage consumption in Burnsville. More serious charges would have to come from Ramsey County, she said. Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom could not be reached for comment.
Dennis Gerhardstein, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Attorney’s office, said St. Paul police presented the case to his office after autopsy results were issued last September.
“We declined murder charges because we did not have enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” Gerhardstein said. “What it comes down to is: Can you prove this in a court of law? Our answer was no.”
Another source with knowledge of the case said Ramsey County had jurisdiction over the death but prosecutors could not prove that either man knew the drinks they gave the girls contained methadone. The codeine cough syrup alone probably wouldn’t have killed her.
According to the charges filed Friday, St. Paul police were called to the girl’s home the morning of Aug. 6, 2012. Pauviera was pronounced dead at the scene.
A 17-year-old friend of the victim said that she, Pauviera and Pauviera’s 12-year-old cousin had been picked up by Sawyer, Kibble and another man the night before and taken to a party in Burnsville. The two older girls were given a purplish-pink drink Sawyer called “dirty Sprite,” “purple drank” or “lean” and another containing gin.
About 8 p.m., the friend said, Pauviera told Sawyer that she needed to go home. The same men drove the girls home, where they ate some food, drank a lot of water and went to bed. The friend said they were feeling numb and itchy all over and had trouble sleeping because they were so thirsty. The friend said the only drugs they’d taken were the drinks they were given by Sawyer and Kibble.
Pauviera was found dead in her bed the next morning; the friend was taken to the hospital because she was vomiting.
When Kibble was interviewed by police Aug. 7, he described the spiked drinks as a mixture of codeine cough syrup and Sprite. He said he’d gotten the cough syrup from his father’s girlfriend’s refrigerator.
The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy on Pauviera’s body and ruled that she died from a mixed-drug overdose of methadone and codeine.
Over the past 13 months, three people who supplied methadone to people who subsequently died have been charged with murder or manslaughter.
Last month, Robert J. Whaley, 61, of Prescott, Wis., was charged with first-degree reckless homicide after his wife died of an apparent overdose of methadone, which he admitted to police that he gave her. In January, Emily K. Frye, 21, of Oakdale, was charged with third-degree murder in the methadone overdose of Frank Eck, a 23-year-old National Guardsman from Scandia. Earlier this month, Devon McFerrin, a suspected Minneapolis drug dealer wanted on third-degree murder charges in the 2012 overdose death of a heroin addict, was arrested in Chicago.
On March 30, Denis K. Parmuat, 32, of Newport, died of a methadone overdose; a 42-year-old woman was arrested in that case, but charges have not been filed.