OU student who died in fall had taken hallucinogen

By chillinwill · Jul 13, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    The autopsy of an Ohio University student who died after a fall out of a dormitory window found evidence suggesting that he had consumed psilocybin mushrooms, a hallucinogenic drug, before the accident.

    This finding confirms widespread campus rumors about the circumstances surrounding the April 29 death of student Eric S. Hansen.

    In response to a question at the time from The Athens NEWS, OU Police Chief Andrew Powers said that he had heard such rumors, but that he could not confirm whether Hansen was under the influence of drugs at the time of his death, until toxicology reports came back from the autopsy.

    The autopsy report on Hansen, prepared by the Franklin County Coroner’s office, gives blunt-force head injuries as the immediate cause of death, and lists the death as an accident.

    Hansen died April 29 in a Columbus hospital, to which he was transported after falling out of a fourth-floor window in Weld House, the residence hall where he lived.

    Based on the autopsy report, an initial screening, reported June 1, found trace evidence in Hansen’s blood of marijuana use, though no alcohol and no hallucinogens.

    Additional toxicology screening was apparently ordered, however, on which a report was completed June 18.

    This screening looked at Hansen’s brain tissue in addition to his blood, and found the presence of psilocin, described in the report as a "hallucinogen from mushroom."

    Written by Athens NEWS Staff
    Monday, 13 July 2009 08:23
    The Athens News

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  1. jon-q
    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=22137&stc=1&d=1314376226[/imgr] Former OU student takes plea in psilocybin death; given 90 days

    A former Ohio University student charged with providing hallucinogenic drugs to a fellow student who took them, then died after falling or jumping from an upper-story dormitory window, will serve 90 days in jail.

    With his voice breaking, and apparently in tears, defendant James T. Wagers, 22, told a judge Tuesday: "Your honor, I'm sorry for everything that ever happened; that's all."

    He was charged in July 2009 in connection with the death of another OU student, Eric S. Hansen, in April of that year.

    Wagers had allegedly given or sold Hansen psilocybin mushrooms; less than an hour after Hansen ingested the drug, authorities say, he fell or leapt to his death from a fourth-floor window of the South Green residence hall where both students lived.

    Wagers, of Mansfield, Ohio, took a plea bargain in Athens County Common Pleas Court Tuesday, agreeing to plead guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of negligent homicide, and a fifth-degree felony count of obstructing official business.

    Judge L. Alan Goldsberry, in accordance with the plea agreement worked out by defense attorney L. Jackson Henniger and the Athens County Prosecutor's Office, sentenced Wagers to serve 92 days in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville on the homicide charge, with two days credit for time already served.

    On the felony obstruction charge - which Blackburn said was based on Wagers' "general conduct" - Goldsberry gave Wagers no prison time, but did place him on five years community control probation, with an underlying one-year prison term that can be imposed if he violates any probation terms.

    Wagers had been facing much more serious felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated drug trafficking. As part of the plea agreement, the indictment was amended to include the charges that Wagers pleaded to.

    Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, who became prosecutor after the indictment was filed against Wagers, acknowledged Tuesday that he believed he might have had a hard time convincing a jury that Hansen's ingestion of psilocybin was the "proximate cause" of his death - in other words, that without the drugs, he would not have died.

    "The issue... is cause of death," Blackburn said. While he believes there was "absolutely" some evidence to show that the psilocybin caused Hansen to go out the window, he said the connection was nowhere as clear-cut as it would have been if, for example, Hansen had taken drugs he got from Wagers, then died from an overdose.

    It might have been a challenge, he said, "to prove that the use of the mushrooms was a cause of death... Not that it's impossible to prove. It's difficult to prove."

    Asked whether he thinks previous Athens County Prosecutor C. David Warren over-charged the case, Blackburn was diplomatic. "Hindsight's 20/20, isn't it?" he asked.

    In the plea hearing, attended by both Wagers' family members and Hansen's parents, Goldsberry agreed to let Wagers have work release from jail to work at a Franklin County restaurant.

    Hansen's parents did not choose to make any statement at the hearing, though they did agree to the plea bargain. They provided the judge with a collage of pictures of their late son as their victim impact statement.

    Blackburn said that he believes the Hansens considered the outcome appropriate, but added that one factor in their agreement may have been simply how long the case dragged on.

    "It's been two years they've gone through this process," he noted. "I think they did want a resolution. They wanted closure to this."

    Wagers' attorney, Henniger, told the judge that the case has been "difficult" and "tragic." He said he believes the prosecutor's office did over-indict the case while Warren was in charge.

    "The facts in this case do not in any manner support the original indicted offense of involuntary manslaughter," he argued.

    Henniger and Warren had gotten into an extra-legal tussle during the earlier phases of the case, after Warren had the defense attorney thrown out of the county Courthouse for allegedly trying to intimidate the prosecutor's office staff while complaining about delays in obtaining discovery evidence.

    Henniger, in turn, asked Goldsberry to sanction Warren for allegedly "yelling and screaming" at him during the incident, and threatening to "kick his ass."

    The judge refused to sanction either party, and warned them both to behave better in the future.

    Henniger said Tuesday his client "has paid a heavy penalty" in connection with the case already. Since Hansen's death, the attorney said, Wagers "has lived an excellent life."

    After leaving OU's School of Business, he said, Wagers has gotten employment, and is preparing to enter Ohio State University.

    "This is a young man of accomplishment," he said. "He has many fine points."

    Wagers will have the chance to try to expunge his conviction record after a minimum of three years. He was set to begin his jail term Tuesday afternoon.

    Jim Phillips
    The Athens News 24th Aug 2011
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