Defense in heroin overdose case argues De Pere teen committed suicide

By chillinwill · Sep 21, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    A 17-year-old De Pere boy who died of a heroin overdose last year committed suicide and was not a homicide victim, a defense lawyer argued Friday.

    Casey Gogos, 19, of Green Bay, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide for providing the heroin that killed 17-year-old Ryan Rockstroh on Oct. 27, 2008. Rockstroh died six days after returning home from a Minnesota drug rehab facility.

    Attorney Jeff Jazgar requested access to Rockstroh's medical and psychological records and plans to offer a defense hinging on the premise that Rockstroh intended to end his own life. Jazgar said his client cannot be held responsible for reckless homicide for another person's intentional act.

    "We believe Mr. Rockstroh committed suicide," Jazgar said.

    Brown County Assistant District Attorney Wendy Lemkuil argued that Rockstroh's intentions are irrelevant to the case because the charges hinge solely on Gogos' actions and the ultimate outcome. She acknowledged that no one forced Rockstroh to take the drugs.

    "This is not a legal defense," Lenkuil told the court. "This is slanderous. This is inappropriate and prejudicial to the jury."

    Jazgar said the structure of his defense will ride on whether the court allows access to the medical records. He noted that there is a text message in the case that could be interpreted to bolster his suicide theory.

    Brown County Medical Examiner Al Klimek ruled Rockstroh's death an accidental overdose by recreational use of heroin.

    Brown County Circuit Court Judge William Atkinson asked Lemkuil to file a brief supporting her invalid defense arguments and said he expects to rule on the issue at a hearing Monday. If Atkinson opts to grant access to the records, it will likely mean the jury trial — set for Wednesday — would be delayed.

    If convicted on the reckless homicide charge and two companion bail-jumping charges, Gogos faces up to 52 years in prison. He remains jailed in lieu of $75,000.

    By Andy Nelesen
    September 20, 2009
    Greenbay Press Gazette

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  1. x2thez53913
    doesnt matter the jury will find him guilty because OMG he sold to a junkie...
  2. Motorhead
    Not necessarily. If they get Rockstrohs' psych record opened and it shows that he was prone to suicidal thoughts or, especially, if he had attempted suicide before, a good lawyer should be able to make a decent argument.
  3. x2thez53913
    Yah but most people who see omg 17yo od on drugs they think different. society as a whole is wrecked due to stereotypes.
  4. Motorhead
    What exactly do they think? I think Gogos has a pretty good defense lined up, depending on the extent of Rockstohs' suicidal tendencies and if they can be fully presented.

    Apparently Gogos was offered a lesser charge of Delivery of a Controlled Substance if he plead guilty, according to the reader comments. That would have got him about 5 years. He has decided to fight. I'm betting on an acquittal.
  5. Creeping Death
    I have to add that psychology is by no means an exact science. If the records show that "he thought about suicide" it doesnt really prove anything about the case being an actual suicide. I wouldnt bet on the defendant being aquitted in this case. Id say his odds are very slim. Because he DID sell the heroin, and the heroin killed that kid. It matters less if it was intentional or not, thats what they might focus on.

    But a real past suicide attempt might be very significant. Especially if he attempted suicide with drugs. Then id say its the psychiatric treatment/psychologists/psychiatrist that failed and didnt help him enough. If he was on antidepressive medication thats another possible smoking gun that made him suicidal.

    Would someone kindly clearify about this law? Its my impression that a drugdealer cant possibly get blamed for somebodys death, in most countries anyway. Definately not in Sweden.
  6. Motorhead
    Sure the heroin killed the kid, but in a court of law Casey Gogos is being charged with causing his death. If Ryan Rockstroh killed himself or caused his own death, then Gogos cannot be found guilty as such. Thats how I enterpret the law, and I'm sure that' how his lawyer will argue it.

    You are correct the the realm of pyschology is not an exact science, and I believe that Gogos lawyer is taking a chance on a text message that could be 'interpreted to bolster his suicide theory' and medical records he probably hasn't seen yet. However, if there is enough there for reasonable doubt, then that's all he needs.

    And he is allowed to use the suicide defense. Follow-up story from the same paper.
  7. Creeping Death
    My god, they want to give a 19 year old 52 years in prison. I get upset about it. Common sense tells me that the whole charge is ridicilous. But thats culture for you, had he been living a few kilometers in another direction, in a different state, it would have been totally different.

    In theory, had Gogos printed the words "use in modoration" on his Heroin-packets, he would not be a murdurer. I just see two teen friends messing with heroin and one of them dies, regardless of who sold it to whom i think its tragic enough and it should end at that. Blaming the other one is like chasing ghosts.
  8. Motorhead
    Story, trial blog: De Pere mom describes son's battle with drugs as heroin overdose trial begins

    Drug supplier Casey Gogos charged with reckless homicide

    Molly Rockstroh wept as she described her son's battle with drugs. She told a courtroom full of people that the 17-year-old high school senior had gotten clean and sober, but couldn't stay that way.

    Twelve jurors from Brown County will decide the case against Casey Gogos, 19, who is charged with first-degree reckless homicide for supplying Ryan Rockstroh of De Pere with the heroin that led to his Oct. 27 overdose death.

    Molly Rockstroh said her son's relationship with drugs started with marijuana and morphed to abuse of prescription pills partly because of his fearless, adventurous personality.

    "In the end it was heroin," she said.

    Ryan Rockstroh was drug-free for 45 days before he died, his mother testified. He had submitted to a drug test for his father the day of his death and recently returned from a 28-day stay at a rehab facility.

    Molly Rockstroh sensed trouble the night before her son died.

    "He had already given up in his mind," she told the jury. "He had the heroin in his pocket. He had already given up.

    "I think he knew he was going to use it that night."

    Ryan told his mother that he was going to stay up and do homework. She went to bed and later heard him take a bath and saw him in bed when she got up in the morning.

    Molly Rockstroh said she was quiet in the house and kept most lights off to avoid waking Ryan before she went to work. She was teaching at De Pere High School when she got the call that Ryan wasn't in school.

    Rockstroh said she knew something was wrong.

    "Ryan never skipped school," she said. "Through all of this, he always went to school."

    Molly Rockstroh testified she arrived home to find Ryan's car in the parking lot and the apartment quiet.

    "I was screaming his name and he didn't move ... He didn't move," Molly Rockstroh said tearfully. "I went up to him and saw him clearly. He had been dead 12 hours.

    "There was no saving him," she said. "He was gone."

    Gogos' attorney plans to couch his defense on the premise that Rockstroh committed suicide. He suggests that Rockstroh's death was an intentional act and therefore is not a homicide.

    Brown County Medical Examiner Al Klimek testified Rockstroh had a toxic level of heroin in his bloodstream when he died, but the levels were not high enough to indicate a suicide.

    Toxicology reports revealed the heroin level in Rockstroh's blood was 283 nanograms per milliliter, Klimek said.

    "That's not alarmingly high," Klimek testified. "It is more consistent with a recreational use of this drug gone bad versus an intentional overdose where you can get ultra-high levels."

    "Throughout this entire investigation, I had no information, no input … that this was a suicidal act," Klimek said.

    De Pere Police Det. Sgt. Matt Guth also testified that Rockstroh had repeated phone contact with a phone used by Gogos on two different days leading up to his death.

    Kyle Bigelow, 17, testified Wednesday that he was friends with Ryan Rockstroh since grade school and was there the night Rockstroh bought heroin from Gogos.

    The deal went down in a Bay Park Square mall parking lot on Oct. 24, 2008, three days before Rockstroh died.

    Matthew Matzke, Rockstroh's cousin, testified that he asked Rockstroh to get him heroin in the days leading up to Rockstroh's death. Matzke, now 25, said he gave Rockstroh $100 for the drugs on Oct. 24, 2008, and again on Oct. 26, 2008.

    Rockstroh was able to get heroin in both occasions, Matzke told police.

    Those dates coincide with the cell phone calls police documented between Rockstroh and Gogos.

    Andy Nelesen, Greenbay Press Gazette
    Sept 24, 2009
  9. Motorhead
    Trial Blog Update: Jury finds 19-year-old guilty in heroin overdose case

    A Brown County jury has found 19-year-old Casey Gogos guitly of providing the drugs that killed Ryan Rockstroh in October.

    Gogos was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and two counts of bail jumping in connection to Rockstroh's death. He has spent nine month in jail awaiting trial. The jury of seven men and five women heard from 20 prosecution witnesses and one defense witness. Gogos is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9.

    Jesus, the way the defense attorney fought for the right to present the suicide defense I really thought he had more to run with.
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