Aaron Boogaard's felony charge is dismissed

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 7, 2011 - 6:30 AM

Aaron Boogaard, brother of the Wild's enforcer who died of a drug overdose, still faces a lesser charge.

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Aaron Boogaard at his brother Derek's memorial service.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Associated Press - Ap

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A Hennepin County judge Thursday dismissed the most serious charge against the brother of former Minnesota Wild hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, who died of a drug overdose in May.

In a written order, Judge William Howard threw out a charge of felony third-degree sale of a controlled substance against Aaron Boogaard for allegedly giving his brother an addictive painkiller from Derek's stash the night before he died. A gross misdemeanor charge of interfering with a death scene still stands.

Because Aaron Boogaard did not buy or acquire the pills Derek Boogaard took the day before his death -- he was only holding them for his brother -- they did not completely belong to Aaron and he cannot be charged with the felony, Howard wrote in his nine-page order. Derek Boogaard "acted alone in acquiring the drugs; [Aaron Boogaard] played no part, and did not act as a link in the chain of distribution."

Howard's order acknowledged Hennepin County prosecutors' argument that money does not have to change hands to constitute the sale of a controlled substance. However, because the exchange was solely between the brothers with no intent to share them further, the charge cannot stand.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Michael Radmer asked Judge Joe Klein, who presided over Thursday's hearing, for a five-day stay on the dismissal to determine their next step. Klein obliged.

Aaron Boogaard's attorney, John Lundquist, said his client is relieved and looking forward to moving on. He couldn't say whether he expects a different charge to be filed. "We obviously hope they leave well enough alone," he said after the hearing.

Aaron Boogaard, 25, was charged in July in connection with his brother's death May 13 in the Minneapolis apartment they shared in the Warehouse District. Prosecutors alleged he regularly doled out the addictive painkillers Derek Boogaard, 28, took until his death from a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkiller Oxycodone. Aaron Boogaard allegedly flushed the painkillers before police arrived.

According to court documents, Derek Boogaard had just left rehab for addiction to painkillers and bought the pain pills, including Oxycodone and Percocet, illegally. He asked Aaron Boogaard to hide them for him "because he could not be trusted with them."

On the evening of May 12, Aaron Boogaard said he gave Derek one or two pills before his brother went out with friends and drank at several Warehouse District bars. Derek was "very intoxicated" and eventually went to bed at 4 a.m. Aaron Boogaard and another brother, Ryan Boogaard, found him dead the following evening. Aaron Boogaard admitted to flushing the rest of the pills down the toilet before paramedics arrived.

Lundquist had contended that the state failed to meet the minimum threshold to charge Aaron Boogaard with a felony. He did not challenge the gross misdemeanor charge.

Aaron Boogaard, a former Wild draft pick, joined training camp for the Wild's farm team, the Houston Aeros, last week. He is set to make another court appearance next Thursday.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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