Aaron Boogaard pleads guilty to gross misdemeanor in brother's death

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 13, 2011 - 11:54 PM

He received stayed sentence for pleading guilty to interfering with scene of brother Derek's death.

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Aaron Boogaard at his brother Derek's memorial service.

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Aaron Boogaard's voice didn't waver Thursday as he recounted the evening last spring when he arrived home to find his brother, Minnesota Wild hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard, dead in bed.

Aaron Boogaard called 911, he said. As medics were on their way, he found the stash of drugs he was hiding for his brother.

"Yes," he told Judge William Howard. "I flushed my brother Derek's pills down the toilet."

Aaron Boogaard's admission about what happened the evening of May 13 was part of his guilty plea to interfering with the scene of a death, a gross misdemeanor. It also ends Boogaard's legal troubles in the wake of his brother's death after a night out partying in Minneapolis' Warehouse District.

In exchange for his plea to the remaining charge, Aaron Boogaard, who is from Regina, Saskatchewan, received a stayed sentence just shy of six months, meaning he will not go to jail as long as he stays out of trouble. The sentence was 178 days rather than 180 to ensure Aaron Boogaard is not deported.

He also received two years' probation and 80 hours of community service. Conditions of his probation include a chemical dependency evaluation and no alcohol or drug use. He is allowed to travel. The former Wild draft pick joined training camp for the Wild's farm team, the Houston Aeros, two weeks ago.

Aaron Boogaard, 25, was charged in July with the gross misdemeanor and felony third-degree sale of a controlled substance. Prosecutors alleged he regularly doled out the addictive painkillers Derek Boogaaard, 28, took until he died from a toxic mix of alcohol and the painkiller Oxycodone. Last week, Howard threw out the felony charge for lack of probable cause because Aaron Boogaard did not buy the drugs for his brother, but was only holding them for him.

The Hennepin County Attorney's office will pursue no other charges against Aaron Boogaard in connection with the case, spokesman Chuck Laszewski said.

Family hopes for justice

Boogaard declined to comment after the hearing. But his attorney, John Lundquist, said that Aaron and his family are relieved to have the case behind them.

"He acknowledged today that he made an error in judgment in doing so while suffering from extreme shock after coming home and finding that Derek had passed away," he said, adding that the Boogaard family hopes that those responsible for Derek's death will be brought to justice.

Laszewski said Minneapolis police presented no other cases for consideration of charges with regard to Derek Boogaard's death.

According to court documents, Aaron Boogaard said he gave Derek one or two pills before his brother went out with friends and drank at several bars on the evening of May 12. Derek Boogaard, who had been recently released from a California rehabilitation center for his addiction, 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.

In a transcript of an interview with investigators, Aaron Boogaard admitted to flushing his brother's pills down the toilet. The pills, which he held for his brother to ensure he didn't overdose on them, included Oxycontin and Percocet. He explained why.

"I knew they were coming," Aaron Boogaard said of the police. "I knew what was gonna happen and ... I was just worried that I didn't want anybody thinking something like that of him, you know?"

The pills were shipped from all over the country, Aaron Boogaard told police, but he also purchased them from a friend in Minneapolis -- one his attorney may be hinting at when he suggests others are responsible.

"I know the people who he gets stuff from here," Aaron Boogaard said in the interview. "And they're just wretched people and I want nothing to do with them."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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