Accused killer was treated for overdose
Rockland — An emergency room doctor testified Oct. 29 in Knox County Superior Court that accused murder Andrew Kierstead was treated for an overdose of acetaminophen following a shooting that killed a man at his home in Cushing.
Dr. J. Whitney Randolph told the court he treated Kierstead at about 1 a.m. Sept. 28, and said the defendant was hunched over, quiet, and without much facial expression while he spoke with him about how many drugs he had ingested and what had happened that night. He said Kierstead told him he had taken " lots and lots" of methadone and vicodin. Vicodin is a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone.
Randolph said medical personnel also knew they were treating Kierstead for an attempted suicide. Following questioning, police had taken Kierstead to the hospital after he made statements about wanting to die.
Defense attorney Steven C. Peterson of West Rockport filed a motion to exclude statements made to police by Kierstead, contending statements made by his client the night of the murder were not voluntary as he was intoxicated on drugs and alcohol and not of sound conscious state.
Kierstead, 41, was arrested in September 2012 and indicted by a Knox County grand jury for the murder of 48-year-old Richard Mills.
According to a police affidavit, Kierstead said he fired a shotgun repeatedly at Mills outside the victim’s home at 40 Far Meadow Lane because the victim had hooked him on drugs and had been supplying him for 10 or 15 years, but then shut him off for not paying money owed.
The effects of an overdose of acetaminophen, a pain killer, includes liver and kidney damage as well as brain damage if left untreated, said Randolph. It does not affect cognitive ability, he said. Randolph said an overdose of methadone would include sedation and respiratory depression as well as cloudy judgement. Blood work was done on Kierstead against his will because Randolph said Kierstead was not capable of making good decisions at the time, because of his suicide attempt, and blood needed to be drawn to determine his toxicity levels.
Lab results showed Kierstead's alcohol levels were at an impaired level of 54, a lower end of the range of 50-100 considered to be an amount high enough to impair judgement. Randolph, under questioning by Peterson, said that Kierstead's levels may have been 150 or higher five hours earlier, when he was first interviewed by police. He said it is difficult to predict exactly, as alcohol metabolizes differently for individuals.
Kierstead was given an intravenous dose of a drug effective in altering the metabolism of acetaminophen. In notes, Randolph described Kierstead's condition as serious but stable. The description of serious is attributed to the fact that Kierstead had an acute illness that could get worse, but that he was stable at the time.
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea pointed out that the nurse's triage notes said Kierstead's severity of injury was a 2 on a scale of 9. She asked Randolph if Kierstead was able to walk in on his own, answer questions and was aware of his surroundings, Randolph testified all were true. Randolph also said Kierstead's vital signs were normal, and that he was alert and oriented and his speech was intelligible while at the hospital.
Although Randolph testified that alcohol levels would presumably be much higher in the hours before, Zainea asked if, depending on the drinker's experience with alcohol, if it was true some can handle their liquor better than others, without slurred speech and a staggering gate. Randolph said this could also be true.
Zainea said there has been no testimony that Kierstead had been stumbling, slurring words or losing consciousness during questioning, and that he was also able to correct officers when he thought they had perceived something he said incorrectly.
In closing arguments, Zainea said Kierstead spoke with law enforcement in the hours after the shooting by his own fee will. She said from the time Kierstead made the 911 call to dispatch, he was able to describe where he was, where the victim was and what had happened.
"It was not a rambling monologue," she said of his statements, adding that although he had vomited during the hours he was with police, one had to take the totality of events of the night and his actions in consideration to make a determination of whether he was mentally and physical sound to speak with police.
"The fact that he vomited doesn't mean his statements were involuntary," she said.
Peterson countered that it was clear his client was intoxicated and that police knew he had overdosed on drugs from the initial 911 call. He said one officer, Lt. Reggie Walker, while talking with Kierstead asked, " are you staying awake on me?", and added videotaped interviews with police show Kierstead's ability to exercise his free choice is impaired.
"It was not clear thinking, or rational thinking. He was trying to be cooperative, but he was intoxicated," Peterson said.
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm is expected to make a ruling on the motion to dismiss statements by the end of next week.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email ta firstname.lastname@example.org.
594-4401 ext. 118
Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.
Recent Stories by Juliette Laaka
Dec 05, 2013
Dec 05, 2013
Dec 05, 2013
Dec 03, 2013
Dec 03, 2013