By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
The jury for the Brandon Bedford trial was selected by 12:30 p.m. today (Monday). Judge Conrad Freeberg, prosecutors Todd Kosovich and Amber Kusler and defense attorneys Gary Wolf and Holly Frame questioned the prospective jurors.
Bedford is charged with third degree murder and third degree sale of a narcotic. The murder charge stems from the death of Miranda Gosiak, 19, Little Falls, who the prosecution charges was given the fatal dose of heroin by Bedford Feb. 28, 2012.
The original charges against Bedford also included two other counts of third degree sale of narcotics and a third degree count of possession of heroin. Those three charges were dismissed.
Thirty-six residents of Morrison County were called to jury duty, 14 were chosen.
Those people are made up of a day care provider, a nurse, a teacher, heavy equipment operators, farmers, unemployed people and seasonal workers.
After the lunch break Kosovich gave his opening statement. He said that Gosiak was found dead Feb. 28, 2012, at the home of her friend, Tanya Ashby. Ashby, who was trained in CPR, tried to revive her, but was unsuccessful.
Kosovich said the charge of third degree murder against Bedford was for the unintentional cause of death by the heroin. He said the evidence would come from witnesses, lab reports and documents.
“It is a crime in Minnesota to cause the death of another,” he said.
As for the charge of selling heroin, the prosecution would be asking for a guilty verdict.
Wolf said in his opening statement that the jurors need to ascertain the credibility of the witnesses.
“Tanya Ashby is not credible,” he said. “Everyone in that house was a user (of drugs). But, Brandon Bedford did not use heroin with Gosiak after Feb. 27. Also, there were no heroin found in the house other than in Ashby’s purse.”
Wolf made it clear to the jurors that they must pay close attention to Ashby’s statements.
“Bedford is protected by the presumption of innocence,” he said. “There is also reasonable doubt as to where the drugs came from. Miranda Gosiak left the house for 30 minutes Feb. 27, 2012,” he said.
Three Little Falls police officers who responded to the call of an unresponsive woman at 508 Third Street N.E. in Little Falls were next called to testify.
Officer Rich Heurung said he was dispatched to Ashby’s home for a medical emergency. He found Gosiak unresponsive in an upstairs bedroom. She was not breathing and had no pulse.
Heurung said he and his partner, David Stevenson, put her on the floor and began CPR. They continued for 45 minutes until she was pronounced dead.
It was learned that Heurung did not search the house and did not know it was a known place with drugs.
Officer Stevenson said he was called to Ashby’s home at 3.03 p.m. Feb. 28, 2012. He said during the time he and Heurung were performing CPR, maybe 10 – 15 other officers and medical personnel had come to the home.
Stevenson was also the officer who took pictures of the scene. The pictures were of tin foil with black residue, prescription bottles, a marijuana pipe, Gosiak on the floor, a butane torch, the entire bedroom, a glass container with a Q-tip in it and an area next to the bed.
The third officer to testify was Sgt. Charles Strack. He arrived after the other officers when he heard the address over the radio. He said he knew it was a house which had prior substance abuse crimes.
Strack said that he saw prescription bottles in the bedroom and three sheets of tin foil. As a member of the Morrison County Violent Offenders Task Force, he knew this was consistent with drug use.
Strack said the foil with residue told him someone crushed pills, put the powder on the foil, used a butane torch to cause the powder to burn and the user would inhale the smoke.
When it was determined Gosiak’s death may be drug-related, the house was locked down. Everyone but law enforcement was asked to leave.
Strack asked Ashby to stay so he could see her prescription pills. He wanted to match the number of pills with the amount prescribed to her.
He said that Ashby told him her purse was in the car. But when she went to get it, he said she took something out of the purse and put it in her pocket, then left the purse behind.
Strack was later given the items in the pill bottle, which were several varieties of drugs. She allegedly told Strack that some were hers and others “may” be her boyfriend’s, Christian Dahn.
When Ashby retrieved her purse, she dumped the contents onto a bed. The contents allegedly contained a prescription vial for 20 mg. lisinopril, a yellow make-up case containing a half a pill of oxycontin and two bindles (plastic wrap twisted around drugs) of suspected heroin. There was also another prescription vial of morphine pills in Ashby’s name.
Also presented to the court were three exhibits of the prescription vials and the compact which contained the heroin.
The first day of trial was recessed at 3:30 p.m. and will continue Tuesday, March 25, at 9 a.m.