A Denham Springs man accused of injecting his girlfriend with a lethal dose of heroin sent text messages two weeks after her death bragging about the potency of the heroin he was trying to sell and appeared to joke about her death, a detective testified Thursday.
An Aug. 9, 2013, a text seized from Jarret McCasland’s cellphone states, “This is the best h could pos get lol unless it would be dangerous deadly.”
East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s Sgt. Rob Chambers, a homicide detective with 19 years of law enforcement experience with narcotics and drug interdiction, testified the “h” in the text stands for heroin. Chambers also said he believes McCasland was joking about the death of his girlfriend, Flavia Cardenas, who died July 26, 2013. She was 19.
McCasland’s attorney, Rodney Messina, disagreed with Chambers’ assessment after Thursday’s hearing.
“I think that’s taken out of context,” Messina said, adding that McCasland feels terrible about what happened.
McCasland, 25, is charged with second-degree murder in her death. A trial date has not been set.
Prosecutors want to introduce some of the texts removed from McCasland’s phone at his trial. Messina is objecting to that request.
State District Judge Don Johnson said he will issue a ruling Jan. 5 after receiving written arguments from both sides.
In another case involving a heroin-related overdose, a 31-year-old Baton Rouge man pleaded guilty earlier this week to negligent homicide and heroin distribution in the Dec. 18 death of his girlfriend, Leah Hutchinson.
State District Judge Bonnie Jackson will sentence Brandon Eirick on Jan. 12.
Eirick, who originally was charged with manslaughter and heroin possession, told police he bought heroin for Hutchinson, also 31, but did not inject her with the drug. Prosecutors have said Eirick injected himself with heroin and Hutchinson injected herself.
They were found unresponsive in a vehicle in the 6900 block of Florida Boulevard. Both were taken to a hospital, where Hutchinson later died.
In McCasland’s case, prosecutors say second-degree murder is the appropriate charge for him.
In 1987, amid the American crack cocaine epidemic, lawmakers expanded Louisiana’s second-degree murder statute to include offenders who distribute an illegal drug that is proven to be the direct cause of a user’s death, even when that person lacked specific intent to kill.
Messina, who contends the law was meant to target drug dealers and not recreational users, reiterated Thursday that cocaine and other substances besides heroin were found inside Cardenas after her death.
A witness told sheriff’s officials that Cardenas did not know how to inject herself with the syringe and relied on McCasland to administer the heroin, according to an arrest warrant.
Ascension Parish sheriff’s narcotics detective Todd Bourgeois also testified Thursday that McCasland and Cardenas were arrested in April 2013 at a Gonzales home after McCasland sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant at the home. Cardenas was in possession of marijuana at the time, the detective said.
Bourgeois said no heroin or cocaine was found in the home.
Prosecutor Will Morris has stated in court documents that a cellphone seized from McCasland during that arrest and reviewed later shows he communicated with others about the acquisition and distribution of heroin from December 2012 until August 2013 when he was arrested in Cardenas’ death.