GRAND JUNCTION — No charges will be filed in the strangling death of a 19-year-old Grand Junction man at a party on April 10 becausehe was out-of-control on the toxic stimulant known as "bath salts," and his friends were only trying to subdue him after his "explosion of violence."
"It was not a criminal act. I will not file criminal charges," Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger announced Tuesday, acknowledging that the victim's family is not happy with his decision.
Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper concurred with Hautzinger's decision.
Hautzinger said an investigation by the Grand Junction police showed Daniel Richards died afterhe became violent at a party and punched one man and threatened others with a large knife. Another person at the party tried to subdue Richards and immobilize him with an arm around his neck. The other partygoers took Richards to the hospital whenhe appeared to be unconscious after being subdued, Hautzinger said.
Investigators learned that Richards had purchased several hundred dollars worth of "bath salts" before the party. The drug was found in his system, along with alcohol and marijuana.
Hautzinger said there is no indication that others at the party were ingesting "bath salts," but friends of Richards told KKCO News that other partygoers were using the same drug and became violent themselves.
Hautzinger and law enforcement authorities in Grand Junction are using the Richard's tragedy as a cautionary tale for others using the synthetic white powder.
The drug, which was being sold in gas stations, smoke shops,head shops and convenience stores in Colorado until three weeks ago, is a potent stimulant that produces a high similar to methamphetamine. The drug can cause hallucinations, paranoia, aggressive behavior, increasedheart rate and blood pressure and sudden death.
Richards' death happened two months before the Colorado Legislature passed a law banning possession and sale of "bath salts" products. The substance had been sold openly under a drug law loophole that exempted substances marked "not intended for human consumption." "Bath salts", sold under names like "Ivory Wave," "Zoom" and , in Richards' case, "White Girl," carried the not-for-human-consumption label.
"This was absolutely a tragedy. This was a death that did not need to happen," Hautzinger said. "Hopefully, some people will understand just how terrible these substances are."
Nancy Lofholm: 970-256-1957 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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