Tyson Anderson holds his then-3-year-old daughter Kaylee at an Easter egg hunt a week before he died.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The 36-year-old Chehalis man who police believe sold some heroin to last year to a Centralia man who died of a drug overdose that night, was ordered held yesterday on $200,000 bail.
Robert T. Lusk was already in the Lewis County Jail when he was arrested on Monday for controlled substance homicide.
He is blamed for the death on April 22, 2013 of 23-year-old Tyson J. Anderson in Centralia.
Anderson had been staying with his girlfriend at an apartment on the 500 block of Iron Street. Before that, he lived for a short time at a place called the Funny Farm – a sober living home – in south Lewis County, according to Ashlee Harris, the mother of his now 4-year-old daughter.
He was an awesome person, Harris said of the young man she was with from the time they were 16 years old until about a year before he died.
“There’s more to him than just that,” she said of the drug overdose. “That’s not him.
Anderson was the designated barbecuer at family get togethers, he enjoyed bow hunting with his many relatives, and worked as a mechanic, she said.
“People don’t understand that it’s a disease,” Harris said. “I want the fact that he was an amazing father, an amazing son, an amazing friend to define who he was; not the mistakes he made.”
Harris had little to say about his drug use, saying it’s a sensitive topic for Anderson’s family and she didn’t want to add to their grief or upset.
But he had apparently been trying to quit using and he managed to get into Lewis County Drug Court, an alternative for some people arrested for drug crimes.
He was in phase one of the program, so relatively new, according to the program’s manager, Jennifer Soper-Baker.
“Tragic situation,” Soper-Baker said.
When police were called just before 2 o’clock that morning about a possible drug overdose, they found an unconscious male later identified as Anderson. Arriving medics worked on him, but he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to authorities.
Centralia police came to learn that Anderson and his girlfriend Sarah McCutcheon had gone to dinner at Country Cousin, where Anderson had made a brief phone call or sent a text to arrange to buy them some heroin, according to charging documents.
McCutcheon told police after they got home, they each injected some and then went to Wal-Mart, eventually returning home where they injected more, charging documents state.
“McCutcheon stated after she was injected the second time, she passed out,” the documents relate. “And when she awoke, she was laying on top of Anderson who was unresponsive.”
She was confused and nervous, so she called 911 and then cleaned up the apartment by hiding the drugs, she told police.
Anderson’s cause of death is listed as acute opiate (heroin) intoxication, following injection.
Exactly why he died or why it killed him isn’t known, according to the Centralia Police Department.
There’s a variety of reasons it happens, more often than not because an individual is exposed to a more potent dose than they’re accustomed to, detective Sgt. Pat Fitzgerald said.
Perhaps they’ve gotten it from a new supplier who has cut it, diluted it, differently, or less than expected, Fitzgerald said.
“There’s a myriad of reasons,” he said. “In this case, we don’t know.”
Fitzgerald said this is the third or fourth case of controlled substance homicide for the department, indicating it’s a charge some other agencies may or may not pursue as aggressively. For example, he said, the Bellevue Police Department only last year had their first case, even though it’s unlikely that city has never before had a fatal drug overdose.
Controlled substance homicide doesn’t have anything to do with forcibly making another person ingest drug, according to Lewis County Senior Prosecutor Will Halstead.
Prosecutors need only prove the person delivered it, the other person used it and then the other person died from it, Halstead said.
The offense has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, except for defendants who have certain previous drug convictions, the maximum time is 20 years.
Centralia police measured the distance between the apartment parking lot and a school bus stop as 517 feet, suggesting a possible more lengthy sentence if Lusk is convicted. Lusk was also charged with delivery of a controlled substance.
Centralia police investigated the for many months following Anderson’s death, questioning his girlfriend numerous times.
According to charging documents, they learned a person named Robert had shown up in the apartment’s parking lot in a greenish Ford Explorer after Anderson got a text from the drug dealer that night.
McCutcheon said she saw it from the apartment window and that Robert was known as a white supremacist who her boyfriend had had issues with in the past.
DNA testing on the wrapping from the heroin was matched to Anderson.
Two phone numbers on Anderson’s Blackberry cell phone were found as being used during the timeframe McCutcheon had outlined to police. One of them belonged to one of his longtime friends and the friend was ruled out.
The other remained a mystery until February when police were speaking with a person who knew Lusk on an unrelated matter. Police discovered that back around the time of Anderson’s death, Lusk had been using a phone that matched the mystery number.
Police also found that Lusk owned a blue Ford Explorer and has a tattoo on his inner bicep that reads “WP”, which officers understand to be an abbreviation for “White Power.”
Harris said she knew a detective was working hard on the case, but was surprised to learn an arrest was made. She attended the hearing yesterday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court with Anderson’s sister.
“We’re thankful, we’re happy, but it’s also opening up a bunch of wounds,” she said.
Lusk has been in the Lewis County Jail for some time, in connection with driving with a suspended license, according to his temporary defense attorney Bob Schroeter. He is wanted in Thurston County, in connection with another instance of the same offense, Schroeter said.
He hasn’t worked and has no income so he qualified for a court-appointed lawyer.
His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow morning.