Christopher Rhondeau

Rhondeau

A Bonneville County man has been charged for arranging the sale of drugs that led to his friend’s death.

Christopher Allen Rhondeau, 30, admitted he connected Jerrad Donald Haley, 30, with a dealer who sold them heroin and methamphetamine on Feb. 3. Haley died later that day from an overdose. Criminal charges were filed Aug. 7, and Rhondeau was arraigned Friday.

Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey told the Post Register this was the first time he knew of in his 8 1/2 years with the office that such charges have been filed in an overdose death.

“I don’t know that we’ve done this before,” Dewey said.

During the 2017 Legislature a bi-partisan bill that would have made it possible to file second-degree murder charges against persons that “cause death of a human being by, directly or indirectly, unlawfully selling, bartering, exchanging or distributing heroin” made it through committee, but failed on the House floor.

Earlier this year, in response to an increase in overdose deaths, Gov. Brad Little used an executive order to create an Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Advisory Group. The group met for the first time Aug. 7.

According to an Idaho Falls Police Department report, officers were called around 9:40 a.m. Feb. 4 to an apartment complex on the 1900 block of 17th Street. Haley, who was identified by his tattoos, was found dead in the bedroom with injection marks on his arm. A jacket covered his face.

An autopsy found Haley had large amounts of methamphetamine and heroin in his system and a blood-alcohol content of 0.21.

The tenant told police he had just found Haley’s body right before he called police and did not recognize him. After further questioning, he admitted Haley had arrived the day before with Rhondeau and his girlfriend. The Post Register is not identifying the woman with Rhondeau because she has not been charged.

The tenant said Haley, Rhondeau and the woman got high on drugs in his bedroom. He said he checked on them multiple times, and they said they were fine. The tenant went to sleep on a couch and checked the bedroom the next morning to find Haley dead and Rhondeau and the woman gone, according to the report.

Detectives contacted Rhondeau and the woman, who both said they would meet to discuss the death. Neither showed up for the interviews, however.

The couple was located at a motel in Idaho Falls on Feb. 13. Rhondeau and the woman stated in separate interviews that Haley was still alive when they left. The two were inconsistent about the details of how and when they left the apartment.

Rhondeau first told police he revived Haley with CPR after he passed out from the drugs. He said Haley vomited and they turned him on his side to prevent him from choking. The detective asked why Rhondeau had his face covered if he was alive when they left, and Rhondeau said he did not know.

After a lengthy and emotional interview with police, Rhondeau said he had actually been unsuccessful in his attempts to resuscitate his friend. He and his girlfriend became scared when Haley died and left the apartment.

Text messages show Rhondeau arranged and negotiated with a drug dealer hours before Haley’s death. He told police they picked the drugs up at a local restaurant. Rhondeau’s girlfriend said Haley was depressed and told them he was “ready to be done.”

The police report describes Rhondeau and his girlfriend as inconsolable about the death.

Rhondeau was charged with delivery of a controlled substance, punishable with up to life in prison. An extension for inflicting great bodily injury was added to the charge, adding a potential extra 20 years to his sentence. His bond was set at $25,000.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Bonneville County Courthouse.

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.