By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Kelly Mills was the first witness called by the prosecution at the Brandon Bedford trial Tuesday. She is the medical examiner for Morrison County, with offices in Ramsey County.
Bedford is accused of murdering Miranda Gosiak, 19, by giving her a fatal dose of heroin in the home of Tanya Ashby, where he also lived, Feb. 28, 2012.
Mills told the court she autopsied Gosiak at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012.
The cause of death was determined to be heroin toxicity, or an overdose of the drug.
“Heroin interacts with the central nervous system,” she said. “It suppresses the breathing process and can cause a coma.”
Mills said there was also pulmonary edema, or fluid filling Gosiak’s lungs which also decreased respiratory drive.
“There was also some swelling of the brain, a complication of heroin overdoses,” she said.
Mills sent Gosiak’s fluids and portions of her organs to be tested. There was no alcohol detected but her urine tested positive for benzodiazepine, a drug for anxiety, plus opiates and heroin.
“Urine will show what drugs have been consumed up to a week prior. It’s a large window to what has been taken,” she said.
The blood was tested to confirm the urine tests.
An anti-depressant was found in Gosiak’s blood below a therapeutic level.
“The blood will show what is actively in a person’s system,” said Mills.
Also found was codeine in the urine, but none in the blood. Morphine was found in a lethal range. Mills said that heroin breaks down to morphine in the body.
Also found in the body was oxycodone and oxymorphone, both opiates, which are characterized by respiratory depression. Both were found in the urine but not in the blood.
“The morphine level in Gosiak’s body was the cause of death,” said Mills.
Prosecuting attorney Todd Kosovich asked Mills if a person consumed heroin before midnight and none thereafter, would that person have it in their body 15 hours later (when Gosiak was found unresponsive).
Mills said, “No, heroin is consumed quickly by the body.”
Defense attorney Holly Frame asked Mills if it was possible to come up with a time line for the drugs taken by Gosiak. Mills said there wasn’t.
Gosiak’s sister, Lisa Houdek, was second to testify.
“Miranda was a remarkable person. She wanted to do so much with her life. She wanted to attend cosmetology school. She didn’t finish high school and was getting her GED,” said Houdek.
Houdek said that it was in June 2011 when her sister fell into drug addiction, four months after their mother was diagnosed with cancer.
“We noticed mom’s pain medications were missing. They included percocet, oxycotin and oxycodone. Mrianda denied the thefts at first, but later admitted it. She asked us for help with her addiction,” said Houdek tearfully. “The family helped in getting her treatment when she asked in December 2011.
Gosiak was in treatment for 30 days and when she was released, went to live with her father. She was going back to school.
The last time Houdek saw her sister was Feb. 27, 2012, when Gosiak came to help her with her day care children. At 8 p.m., Gosiak went to Ashby’s home where she died of an over dose of heroin.
Houdek said Gosiak told her she wanted to retrieve some items she had left at Ashby’s home, but Houdek knew it was dangerous for her to be there because of past drug use there.
Jeremy Leese, an agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, was next to testify. He said he went to Ashby’s home Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, and found prescription pill bottles, drug paraphernalia and foil with burn marks upstairs in Bedford’s bedroom and a scale downstairs.
Leese said there was no heroin found in the upstairs bedroom and the only heroin found downstairs was in Ashby’s purse.
The court learned that the plastic which the heroin was wrapped in was not tested for DNA, since plastic doesn’t hold DNA well. No prints were found on the small packages.
A two-and-a-half-hour recording of Leese’s interview with Ashby was played for the courtroom. In it, Ashby at first denied using heroin or any recreation drugs at all. She said she had enough prescribed drugs to take for her pain from a brain lesion she was diagnosed with in 2010.
As the interview progressed, Leese got a time line from her on what had occurred on Monday, Feb. 27 and Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012.
Ashby, Bedford, and Ashby’s boyfriend, Christian Dahn, went to Richfield Monday morning to solicit work for tree trimming. During their lunch break, they went to north Minneapolis to purchase heroin from a Keon Mangun. Each of them snorted some of the drug. They returned to Richfield for a short time to work and on the drive home they did some more heroin and then again in Little Falls at Ashby’s home.
Gosiak arrived at the home at about 8 p.m. Ashby said Bedford laid out three lines of heroin. He offered one to Ashby, who accepted, and he snorted the second. When he offered Gosiak the third line, Ashby left the room, saying she could not watch her do it since she had just returned from rehab.
Ashby said that Bedford and Gosiak then went upstairs to watch movies and Ashby went to bed. When she arose the next morning, Ashby saw Gosiak when she came downstairs to use the bathroom and said she looked OK. That was at about 8 a.m. Gosiak went back upstairs, Dahn got up and he and Ashby snorted some more heroin.
Dahn and Ashby left to do errands and when they returned, Ashby went upstairs to retrieve the debit card she loaned Bedford the night before to rent the movies. She said Gosiak looked fine.
Later, Bedford came downstairs to eat breakfast. He allegedly said to Ashby, “I shouldn’t have given her that last line.” She said it was then Bedford showed her a bag of heroin.
She said Bedford wanted to get rid of the heroin, but she wouldn’t buy it from him.
“I guess he was high,” she said. Ashby did not ask any questions about how Gosiak was. Bedford had told her she was sleeping.
Ashby said he stayed downstairs about an hour before he returned to his bedroom where he left Gosiak.
At about 2:30 p.m., Ashby said Bedford yelled for help. Dahn went upstairs and yelled for Ashby to come upstairs. She said she found Gosiak unresponsive and grey. She was not breathing and had no pulse. She began CPR and continued until police officers arrived.
The fourth witness called to testify at the trial was Waylon Beto, a casual friend of Gosiak’s. He said she came to his home the night of Feb. 27, 2012, to pick up her Narcotics Anonymous tags that were there.
“She looked as if she was under the influence,” he said. “Her words were slurred and her eyes were half closed. I asked her for pain killers, but she said she didn’t have any.”
Beto said that Gosiak had contacted him several times to do drugs with her, but he had always told her no since he was also a recovering addict.
“No drugs were used when she came to my home that night,” he testified.
Ashby was the last witness to testify Tuesday night. She told the court she took prescription drugs for headaches and dizziness due to a brain tumor on her brainstem. She took drugs for seizures, nerve blockage, antidepressants and anti-anxiety.
Ashby said that she knew Gosiak was addicted to heroin and prescription pain medications, that Gosiak had been in treatment and she said Gosiak had told her she had relapsed.
She told the court that when the police and ambulance arrived at her home the afternoon of Feb. 28, 2012, and when she was being interviewed, she was scared because of the drugs, because Gosiak had died and because she couldn’t save her.
“I admit I lied to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents for about two hours,” she said.
There are two more witnesses scheduled for Wednesday. The court believes that closing arguments will begin Wednesday afternoon.