Family feels void left by teen’s overdose death; suspect’s trial to begin

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Seven months after Miranda Cedar lost her 17-year-old son to a fatal heroin overdose, she still feels the hole in her life left by his death.

“I have found no way to let go of him,” Cedar said in a Friday interview.

Cedar’s son, Maceo Niehaus, died May 14 at a home in the 700 block of South Ennis Street after injecting himself with heroin allegedly provided by David A.C. Zavodny, 19.

Zavodny was arrested and initially charged with one count of maintaining premises for drug trafficking, with a controlled-substance homicide charge added after autopsy results confirmed Niehaus died of a heroin overdose.

The seven-month anniversary of Niehaus’ death came two days before Zavodny’s jury trial was set to begin after being postponed four times since July.

Monday trial reset

Monday, however, will bring another trial reset as Karen Unger, Zavodny’s retained defense attorney, and John Troberg, the Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney assigned to the case, are set to start a separate jury trial in an unrelated case.

Troberg said last week he and Unger will meet before a judge in county Superior Court at 9 a.m. to determine a new trial date.

The string of delays has been for varied causes, such as Unger needing more time to prepare for the case and the matter being transferred to Troberg from former county Prosecuting Attorney Ann Lundwall, who left in October to become a victims’ advocate in the Navy.

Zavodny was in the county jail as of Saturday on $250,000 after he was booked Dec. 2 for reportedly violating a condition of his release, according to Superior Court documents.

An arrest warrant was issued for Zavodny on Nov. 27 after a test of a random sample of Zavodny’s urine, taken by Friendship Diversion services, returned positive for amphetamines, according to court documents.

Drug test failed

Zavodny had been released from jail Oct. 4 with the requirement, among others, that he would submit to random urine analysis tests to ensure he did not use or possess drugs, according to court documents.

“That makes me very, very sad because I had high hopes for him,” said Ricki Niehaus, grandmother of Maceo, referring to Zavodny being booked into jail again.

“I say prayers for him as well.”

Ricki Niehaus said Friday her grandson’s death and Zavodny’s incarceration have meant two families have lost their teenage sons.

“They’ve lost their son, too, but at least they still get to see him,” Ricki Niehaus said, referring to Zavodny’s family.

According to Port Angeles police accounts, Maceo Niehaus injected himself with heroin at Zavodny’s residence and stopped breathing.

Zavodny reportedly applied ice and cold water to Niehaus in an attempt to revive him, calling 9-1-1 between 40 and 45 minutes after Niehaus stopped breathing.

Paramedics and police could not revive him.

Seven months after Maceo’s death, Ricki Niehaus also said the loss of her grandson is still a hole her in life.

“It’s a big void. It’s a big, empty spot,” Niehaus said.

“We just pull together as a family and hang together and make the best of it.”

For instance, Ricki Niehaus said she and other relatives watched home movies of Maceo while celebrating Thanksgiving.

Celebrating Christmas

Cedar said she still plans to celebrate Christmas with her other children and her extended family in the Port Angeles area, though it will not be the same without Maceo.

“I don’t get to spend the holiday with my son. I don’t get to see him laugh,” Cedar said.

Throughout the past half-year, Cedar said, one consistent positive has been her son’s friends and their unwavering support.

“I’ve got kids coming over 24/7,” Cedar said.

“They help me clean, they help me cook, they do everything for me.”

More than 300 friends and family attended Maceo’s May 23 funeral, filling Drennan-Ford Funeral Home on Monroe Road.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Last modified: December 14. 2013 5:32PM
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