Olivia man charged with murder in woman's July overdose death
Bradley James Westphal, 37, has been charged with third-degree murder after allegedly giving a woman a pill she thought was Percocet but actually contained fentanyl July 18 in Olivia.
OLIVIA — An Olivia man has been charged with third-degree murder after allegedly giving a woman the fentanyl that led to her death in July.
Bradley James Westphal, 37, appeared Wednesday before District Judge Laurence Stratton in Renville County District Court on the single charge for the July 18 incident that resulted in the death of Connie Havens, 57, of Loveland, Colorado, at Westphal's home.
Havens has not been named in court documents but was identified by her daughter, Shawnee Marie Pugh-Havens.
Stratton ordered Westphal, who is currently on probation for an August driving while impaired conviction, be held on $300,000 unconditional bail or $150,000 bail with conditions that he not consume alcohol or mind-altering substances, not leave the state without prior approval and not have contact with any witnesses.
Renville Assistant County Attorney Kelsie Kingstrom had asked for $500,000 unconditional bail or bond for Westphal, citing his prior criminal history and the use of fentanyl in the woman's death.
"There is a huge fentanyl pandemic in our community," Kingstrom said in court. "It's easy to overdose."
Kingstrom also said in court that there were at least five witnesses to the incident and requested the high bail in the interest of public safety.
Westphal's public defender, Curtis Reese, disputed the public safety claim in court, saying that the incident happened in July and Westphal was not arrested until Tuesday, Dec. 21, and no other incidents have occurred in that timespan.
Pugh-Havens said in an interview with the West Central Tribune that she doesn't understand why it took so long to arrest Westphal, and that she hasn't been contacted by anyone from the Olivia Police Department or the Renville County Attorney's Office.
"He's a danger to the community," she said, adding that the long process didn't help with the family getting any sort of closure.
Havens, who had previously lived in Olivia since 2007 before moving to Colorado earlier this year, was the single mother of 10 children, according to Pugh-Havens.
Pugh-Havens said her mother was a hard worker, always employed and shared her love with the community by helping them out when help was needed.
"I'm angry, lost, broken. She's my best friend," said Pugh-Havens.
She also said Westphal was known to them, and the family had celebrated holidays and birthdays at his house.
"It surprised me at first that he did this to my mom," she said.
According to the criminal complaint, Westphal gave Havens pills, which the two snorted in the bathroom of his Olivia residence.
After snorting the pill, she sat on a couch for 15 to 20 minutes before she started to fall asleep and gasp for air, according to a 19-year-old woman who also was at Westphal's home. Pugh-Havens identified the young woman as another daughter of Havens.
According to the complaint, the 19-year-old yelled at Westphal to call 911, but he refused to do so. Instead, he removed drugs and drug paraphernalia from the residence and called various other people to tell them about what happened.
The young woman told law enforcement that she and Havens had gone to Westphal's residence looking for Percocet.
"My mom wouldn't have taken (the pills) if she knew it was fentanyl," Pugh-Havens said. "She had a grandkid on the way. My mom didn't want to die."
Officers arrived around 12:43 a.m. July 19 to find Havens not breathing and without a pulse. She was transported to a hospital where she died.
Pugh-Havens used a profanity to refer to people who sell fentanyl. "I know multiple people who have died from it. I don't know how people feel OK with giving or selling it."
Law enforcement reviewed Westphal's call log and Facebook messages, which showed he made phone and Facebook calls and sent a Facebook message before calling 911.
Officers found pills at the scene that were identified as fentanyl.
During questioning, Westphal first told law enforcement that Havens arrived at his residence, was tired and then fell asleep. Westphal told law enforcement that she had brought Percocet pills to his residence, crushed them and that he and the two women all snorted some before the victim stopped responding. He told law enforcement she still had a pulse at the time.
According to the autopsy results, the woman died from the effects of fentanyl. Percocet was not found in the toxicology report.
The Olivia Police Department and the Renville County Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the victim or the incident.