JUNEAU — A 29-year-old Beaver Dam man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday for causing the 2017 overdose death of a 25-year-old Juneau man.
Brian Larson II was convicted of reckless homicide and bail jumping on Feb. 28. He was acquitted on a charge of manufacturing and delivering heroin and an additional bail jumping charge.
Dakoda Kline had fallen victim to opioid addiction after being prescribed narcotics for injuries sustained in a traffic accident in 2012, according to testimony from the trial. His body was found April 9, 2017, in his van, which was still running in Beaver Dam’s Oakwood Cemetery.
A Dodge County jury determined Larson was the person who had delivered the fatal dose to Kline after cellphone records revealed the two had been in contact the day before Kline’s body was discovered and conversed with several phone calls and text messages, including one which Larson sent to Kline that read: “Ready when you are. Really good stuff bro.”
Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Martin De Vries called the text message disturbing before sentencing Larson to 10 years in prison and five years of extended supervision. In addition, Larson was placed on five years of probation for the bail jumping charge.
Prosecutor Yolanda J. Tienstra had asked for a 25-year prison sentence with 15 years of an extended sentence. Defense attorney John Smerlinski had asked for an imposed and stayed eight-year prison sentence with Larson being placed on probation for eight years.
Brittany Stedman, Kline’s fiancée and mother his two children, described what happened when she went looking for Kline and came upon the scene at Oakwood Cemetery, where Kline was dead in his van.
“There is no worse thing in the world than telling your mind that everything will be OK and pulling up to find out that he was gone with police and squad cars all around,” Stedman said. “That is the moment that my life seemed to freeze in time.”
Stedman said Larson’s testimony during his trial angered her.
“You did everything to make it seem like you cared and that you lost him,” Stedman said. “You didn’t lose anyone. We did. You lost a customer. You were his dealer. You were nothing more than that to him when he struggled with the only thing he hated in life — his addiction.”
“On April 8, you made a decision for my family that I had no say in,” Stedman said. “Your poor decision-making to become a drug dealer became my problem. It affected Dakoda physically and mentally, but it affected me mentally, physically, emotionally and financially.”
Kline’s sister, Hannah Stortz, said her brother tried to overcome addiction and was excited about going to college and spending time with his children.
“My siblings lost an older brother,” Stortz said. “One who at times growing up was like an extra father.”
Kline’s mother, Dana Vincent, said that there were two families who suffered a huge loss.
“I can no longer see my son, and they have to see their son while he is incarcerated,” Vincent said. “Dakoda was my life. He was my first born. He meant everything to me. He was such an amazing person with such a kind soul and beautiful heart.”
Vincent said her son was more than an addict, noting that he worked a full-time job and almost died in the 2012 accident. She said he was put on strong pain medications that led to his addiction.
Vincent said she does have remorse for Larson’s family, but she felt the defendant had not shown any himself.
“No amount of time will give me my son back, but I feel if there were some sort of sympathy from Brian or owning his position in dealing the drugs that caused the end of Dakoda’s life, I could probably forgive him, but not forget,” Vincent said. “I believe that he still has zero sympathy for us and still denies he had a part in Dakoda losing his life. … I don’t hate Brian. I just wish he would own his actions and learn from this.”
Among those speaking for Larson during the sentencing was his father, Brian Larson Sr., who described his son as a good student-athlete.
“He went into the National Guard when he was 17, because he wanted to serve and protect our country,” Larson Sr. said, adding that he was shocked by the charges against his son.
The defendant also spoke and said that he knew the path he was on before was not the one he wanted to be on in the future. Larson said he was injured while he was in the service, which led to his own addiction. He said he has been active in a variety of recovery services since he has been in jail.
“Please let me show you that this is not who I am,” Larson said. “I am someone you and the community will believe in and trust in once more.”
Larson said he wanted to help to get others off the drugs and would work at getting others off of heroin.
“You made a decision for my family that I had no say in. Your poor decision-making to become a drug dealer became my problem. It affected Dakoda physically and mentally, but it affected me mentally, physically, emotionally and financially.” <&textAlign: right>— Brittany Stedman, Dakoda Kline’s fiancee, speaking at the sentencing hearing of Brian Larson II