A Cottage Grove man who ignored a dying woman while he went off to apply for a job stood before a judge Friday and asked for a prison sentence.
"There really are no words that will fix my lack of actions," said Adam David Wickard, 20, who pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the December 2013 methadone overdose death of a 20-year-old Cottage Grove acquaintance.
"The only control I have now is the control to try to fix my life," Wickard said, apologizing to Priscilla C. Friest's family and friends for failing to summon emergency help when she fell in and out of consciousness and had trouble breathing after a night of drinking and drug use.
District Judge Tad Jude promptly obliged Wickard's request for prison, sentencing him to the maximum four years and nine months behind bars. Wickard must serve at least 38 months before he's eligible for supervisory release. He will receive credit for 23 days spent in jail.
"This is yet another in a long line of drug overdose deaths our county has experienced in the last several years," said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. "It has become a scourge upon our young people. That is why my office, and all of law enforcement, responds to overdose deaths as homicides to be investigated just like any other homicide. We simply must stop these drug dealers from peddling their deadly wares."
Prosecutor Imran Ali argued in court that Wickard deserved the maximum sentence because he saw Friest consume liquid methadone after drinking most of a bottle of rum and did nothing to seek help even when he woke up beside her and suspected she was dead. Who supplied her with the methadone couldn't be determined.
"You could have had some kind of medical intervention that could have saved her life?" Ali asked Wickard.
"Correct," he responded in a firm voice.
Defense attorney Allan Caplan told the judge he's handled 10,000 criminal cases in his long career but couldn't remember a client "so willing and so desirous" for punishment.
"He realized he did something wrong and he's willing to suffer the maximum sentence," Caplan said.
Gordon Friest, the victim's father, described Wickard's behavior as "less than moral" and said he wanted a stronger criminal charge against him.
"This is going to happen again," he said. "This is a big place, a big world. More people are going to die."
According to the criminal complaint, Wickard and Friest attended a party in Cottage Grove on Dec. 14 and then left for a fast-food restaurant. When they returned to the house she shared with her sister, she seemed "sleep drunk," couldn't talk, and Wickard had to carry her downstairs. He suspected she was dead when he left for the job interview the next morning. The medical examiner determined cause of death as "methadone toxicity."
Forensic examination of Wickard's cellphone revealed a lengthy history of dealing illegal and prescription controlled substances, the complaint said.