JUNEAU — Brittany Stedman recounted Tuesday how her fears came to a reality on April 8, 2017, when her fiance’s lifeless body was found in a Beaver Dam cemetery, testifying during the trial for the man who prosecutors say provided the drugs that killed him.
Brian K. Larson, 29, is accused of delivering a fatal dose of heroin to Dakoda Kline, a 25-year-old from Juneau, in April 2017.
Larson, of Beaver Dam, is charged with felony counts of reckless homicide by way of delivering a controlled substance, two counts of manufacturing or delivering heroin and two counts of bail jumping in January.
Stedman, testifying on the second day of the trial, said she and Kline were together for eight years. They have two children.
Dodge County Assistant District Attorney Yolanda Tienstra noted while Stedman was on the witness stand, “At some point in the relationship, you found out he was using heroin.”
Stedman said in the summer of 2015, she noticed a bandage on Kline’s arm, in a place where drug users typically inject needles. He had told her that it was a mosquito bite, but she knew he was lying.
Kline had an accident in 2012 that led to him being prescribed prescription drugs, Stedman said.
“He was on his way to a job site when he was blinded by the sun,” Stedman said. “He drove into a 10-foot embankment and hit three trees.”
Kline was hospitalized for about a week and could not take care of himself after the accident. He returned to his mother’s home for the first few months, but later returned to the home that he shared with Stedman.
“He was very depressed,” Stedman said. “It was hard for him to accept that he could no longer work.”
Kline’s prescriptions included Percocet, Dilaudid, and Oxycontin, Stedman said, adding that he was prescribed them for about two years.
“He didn’t get weaned off of the meds,” Stedman said. “He had withdrawals. He had to quit cold turkey.”
Stedman said he began looking elsewhere for pain pills and primarily used the Percocet he was able to purchase from people. Eventually, a friend convinced him to try heroin.
Stedman said she could tell when Kline was on the drug. There were multiple times that he attempted to stop using heroin by himself.
“He realized he couldn’t do that, so he did outpatient in July of 2016,” Stedman said. “It was an eight-week program, and he was clean for up to three months until the time he passed as far as I know.”
Two weeks before his death, Stedman said Kline got a job in Horicon and went to a bowling tournament in Beaver Dam for his work the afternoon of his death. Stedman said he had told her he’d be home around 3 p.m. and that the two would go out to dinner that night.
Stedman took a nap and did not wake up until 6 p.m.
“I began calling and texting him, but I was not getting a response,” she said. “So I called his mom to pick up our daughter and I drove around looking for him.”
Stedman said the next morning, she called hospitals and the police. She eventually decided to look for him again. When she drove into Beaver Dam from Horicon, Stedman saw police cars in Oakwood Cemetery.
Kline’s vehicle was still running when Stedman entered the cemetery. While she talked to the police, they asked her who he could have possibly bought the heroin from. There were three possible people, Stedman said, with Larson — whom she only knew by the nickname “Bucky” — being one of them.
Larson’s attorney, John Smerlinski, asked Stedman if part of Kline’s treatment was using Suboxone, a drug that has been shown to reduce the withdrawals of heroin but it can be dangerous if used with other substances.
“Yes, he took it in front of me,” Stedman said.
Smerlinski asked Stedman about the names she had given the police.
She said at the time, Kline was not speaking to two of them, including Larson. Stedman said she only knew the first name of the third person he could have possibly bought the drugs from at the time.
The jury also heard from members of law enforcement, a retired employee from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab who identified the heroin found near Kline’s body, employees at gas stations where Kline stopped in to get cash, and two members of Kline’s family.
The trial will continue Wednesday.