Judge refuses to alter life sentence for Denham Springs man in girlfriend’s alleged heroin death _lowres

Jarret J. McCasland

Flavia Cardenas was hospitalized in Baton Rouge for a drug overdose 13 months before she died in July 2013 of what the coroner labeled a heroin overdose, her mother testified Wednesday at the second-degree murder trial of a Denham Springs man accused in her death.

That information was revealed while Nancy Landa, a prosecution witness, was being questioned by Jarret McCasland’s lead attorney, Rodney Messina.

Landa, who is from Cuba and teaches Spanish in Baton Rouge, acknowledged that Cardenas — her only child — had what Landa described through an interpreter as a small drug problem.

Landa said her daughter received drug treatment after she was hospitalized June 23, 2012, for a drug overdose. She was 17 at the time. Cardenas did not know McCasland at that time.

Cardenas died July 26, 2013. She had celebrated her 19th birthday three days earlier.

Landa testified she did not see McCasland administer drugs to her daughter while Cardenas and McCasland were at Landa’s West Versailles Drive home between roughly 11:30 p.m. on July 25, 2013, and 2 a.m. the following day, when McCasland left.

Landa said that after Cardenas died, she found a digital drug scale inside a Victoria’s Secret bag in her daughter’s bedroom closet and turned it over to authorities.

Also Wednesday, the jury learned that a text message was sent from McCasland’s phone two weeks after Cardenas died, stating, “This is the best h could pos get lol unless it would be dangerous deadly.” Authorities said “h” stands for heroin.

Jurors also listened to East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s detective Rob Chambers’ audiotaped interview of McCasland on Aug. 10, 2013, in which McCasland admitted injecting Cardenas with cocaine the evening of July 25, 2013, but denied injecting her with heroin.

McCasland, 26, told Chambers it was Cardenas who introduced him to injecting drugs.

“She showed me how to do everything,” he told the detective.

At one point in the interrogation, Chambers asked McCasland if he anally injected Cardenas with heroin.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” McCasland replied.

Cardenas’ friend Christina Garman testified Tuesday that she watched McCasland inject Cardenas with heroin anally at Garman’s home the night before she died.

Garman also said Cardenas told her that McCasland would inject her while she slept.

“Wow! No sir!” McCasland responded when Chambers asked if he had ever done such a thing. “That’s pretty sick. Dude, somebody’s making up lies on me.”

Chambers testified he believes McCasland told the truth when he said he injected Cardenas with cocaine but lied when he denied injecting her with heroin.

McCasland told Chambers in his interview that Cardenas bought heroin from someone named “T,” but Chambers told Messina, the defense attorney, that he did not try to learn that person’s identity and investigate that person. Messina accused Chambers of only being interested in pursuing McCasland.

The trial will resume Thursday. State District Judge Don Johnson is presiding over the case.

McCasland faces an automatic sentence of life in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder.