Homicide charge in overdose death

Fentanyl, meth found in autopsy

PORT ANGELES — A Clallam County man who allegedly sold fentanyl-laced methamphetamine to a man who died from an overdose could face up to 10 years in prison.

Nathan Wayne Terry, 32 — a Port Angeles resident with no known address, police said — has been charged in Superior Court with controlled substance homicide-accomplice in connection with the 2020 death of Port Angeles resident Chad Eugene Johnson, 33.

Johnson’s death was among the 11 drug overdose fatalities in Clallam County from January through May compared with three from January through May 2020, Deputy Coroner Christi Wojnowski said Thursday.

Two were between the ages of 30-39 and three were 60-69.

There have been two drug overdose deaths in Jefferson County from January through May, the same number as 2020, said Laura Mikelson, legal assistant-deputy coroner.

Clallam Superior Court Judge Brent Basden on Thursday rescheduled Terry’s estimated 10-day trial on the Class B felony from June 14 to June 28. A status hearing is set for June 18.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin has compiled a list of 21 potential witnesses for the trial, including three forensic scientists. Three witnesses are unavailable June 14, she said Thursday.

Johnson’s body was found by his girlfriend, who reported him lying on the floor of their bedroom, unconscious and not breathing, at 6:41 a.m. April 30, 2020, according to a probable cause statement filed April 20, 2021.

She said Johnson had a history of using heroin, “but she thought he had been clean for some amount of time,” according to the probable cause statement.

The morning authorities were dispatched to Johnson’s residence, a person outside the home identified Terry, who had been living at the Holiday Lodge, as the person who sold Johnson the drugs, the statement said.

The Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team became involved in the investigation after Johnson’s body was put on a county coroner’s office hold for an autopsy.

“Due to recent increase in overdose deaths, OPNET wished to attempt to locate where the deadly drugs were coming from,” the statement said.

The toxicology report showed signs of methamphetamine and fentanyl in Johnson’s blood.

“His death is attributed to acute intoxication by the combined effects of methamphetamine, fentanyl and opiates,” Forensic Pathologist Dr. Eric Kiesel said in his autopsy report.

“In view of the information available at this time concerning the circumstances surrounding his death, the manner of his death is classified as an accident.”

A review of Johnson’s Facebook messenger traffic showed he had contacted various people to obtain small amounts of heroin and methamphetamine for $5 and $15.

His primary source of drugs was a relative who was close to Terry, according to the probable cause statement.

He sent his final messages to the relative regarding drugs the night before his body was found, when he had told the relative that the drugs supplied by Terry were “garbage,” the statement said.

OPNET detectives made two controlled buys of drugs from Terry and arrested him June 6, 2020.

The buys were not related to the homicide, OPNET Cmdr. and county Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said Thursday.

The probable cause statement described Terry’s anxiety over information linking him to Johnson’s death.

The Port Angeles Police Department learned July 21, 2020, that Terry made three public records requests of the city.

So police Sgt. Josh Powless filed his own public records request to discover what Terry was seeking.

It showed Terry had made three public records requests for any police reports including Terry’s name, state law guidelines for charging a person with delivery of a controlled substance and “what must be proved,” and witness statements, dispatch calls and “all follow ups” for Johnson’s overdose.

“ENTIRE CASE FILE PLEASE,” Terry implored in his request.

The public records office told Terry that the investigation was still open. That made the information unreleasable.

Terry was booked into the county jail Aug. 27, 2020, on an unrelated charge and was already incarcerated when he was charged in April with homicide.

His bail is $160,000.

“The investigation into this matter had been ongoing,” King said.

King said that, along with more deaths, there has been a spike in the presence of fentanyl-laced methamphetamine, heroin and counterfeit pills masquerading as Percocet, a prescription painkiller that contains oxycodone and acetaminophen.

The addition of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller that can be 100 times stronger than heroin, is “quite common,” King said.

“You don’t know how much of a concoction of fentanyl is in any one pill, let alone any illicit drug you are buying.

“It’s bad, bad news.”

Terry’s criminal history includes more than a dozen convictions, none drug-related, according to his criminal history filed May 26 in Superior Court.

They include residential burglary, third-degree assault and, as a juvenile, second-degree burglary, second-degree malicious mischief and second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission.

The standard sentence range on the homicide charge is 8.3 to 10 years in prison.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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