A Lodi man will face trial on a charge of first-degree reckless homicide in connection to a drug overdose death.
Derik Walter, 28, is charged with a single count of reckless homicide and if convicted could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for his alleged connection to the death of a 26-year-old Lodi man in June 2016.
Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Todd Hepler found probable cause and set an arraignment for Oct. 26 after testimony in a preliminary hearing Thursday.
Assistant District Attorney Crystal Long called Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Detective Sgt. Ben Oetzman to testify. He described being called to a death investigation at the Lamp Lite Motel in the town of Pacific on June 25, 2016, where Alan Vanderwaal was found dead.
At the scene, Oetzman told the court, officers found heroin paraphernalia and interviews with the man’s family revealed that he had struggled with heroin addiction.
While waiting for autopsy results, Oetzman interviewed Walter on June 30. Oetzman said that Walter admitted to being with Vanderwaal June 24, and getting cocaine with him.
The autopsy report stated that Vanderwaal had died of “cocaine and heroin toxicity,” and the doctor who performed the procedure told Oetzman that “the cocaine by itself would have been fatal, even without the heroin.”
Oetzman said in a subsequent interview Walter told him Vanderwaal reportedly picked Walter up from a Lodi Kwik Trip around 9:45 p.m. June 24, and drove the two of them to Madison where Walter bought cocaine for $40.
The two smoked crack cocaine while driving along back roads until Vanderwaal dropped Walter off around midnight.
Defense attorney Mark Frank asked about Vanderwaal’s condition from the time when Walter was dropped off until he was found by authorities.
“Do you know where Mr. Vanderwaal went after he dropped off Mr. Walter?”
“We found out that he went to the Walmart in Portage,” said Oetzman, ”and then from there he met with a female, and then from there it is unknown where he was.”
Frank confirmed with Oetzman that Vanderwaal’s next known location was the motel where he was found, and that it is unknown if anyone else was with him in the room. Oetzman confirmed that a heroin cooker was found in the room with Vanderwaal, but when asked, could not confirm whether there were two sets of DNA found on that piece of paraphernalia without having reports at hand.
“In this case it sounds like the big question will be whether the cocaine that was used caused the death,” Hepler said.
Hepler said there was sufficient evidence of Walter’s part in procuring the cocaine and putting it in Vanderwaal’s possession to proceed with the case.
Since charges were filed in May, Walter has been held on $10,000 cash bond.