Trial date set in Kyla Helvey drug death case

EVERETT — Kyla Helvey was loving, intelligent and trusting.

She trusted two young women too much, and it was a fatal mistake, a friend of Helvey’s family said Friday.

“Unfortunately, her judgment was off on this issue,” said Kristin Henry.

Helvey died in September after taking an overdose of a drug that’s sometimes used at rave parties. On Friday, two acquaintances pleaded not guilty to controlled substances homicide charges during an emotion-packed hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court.

“She trusted everyone. She was very smart,” Henry said of the Snohomish High School graduate.

Helvey, 21, of Everett, died Sept. 11 after taking the drug GHB, which stands for gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. Besides rave parties, GHB is sometimes used by body builders and is among a number of date-rape drugs.

Brooke E. James, 20, of Marysville, and Mallori Carmin Smith, 23, of Lake Stevens, are each charged with supplying the drug and not calling for aid when Helvey collapsed.

Three dozen friends, family members and supporters of Helvey attended the hearing. Many wore black and pink T-shirts saying “Friends Don’t Let Friends Die.”

Others carried single red roses, and many wore placards with Helvey’s picture.

Henry said Helvey’s parents want people to know their daughter wasn’t into illegal drugs, and what happened the night she got together with Smith and James and took GHB was out of character.

Her parents declined to comment at this time.

Helvey had been attending massage therapy school and had just landed a job with a dental office the day she died, Henry said.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office said Helvey died from acute intoxication: a combined effect of GHB and alcohol consumption, deputy prosecutor Mara Rozzano said in charging papers.

The victim had three times as much GHB in her system as would have put her into a coma, Rozzano said.

According to documents, the three women got together to soak in a hot tub and have some drinks. Smith started talking about GHB and said someone left the drug at her place in a water bottle after a party, papers said.

Both defendants told Helvey about the dangers of the drug and warned her not to take too much, papers said. Smith and James put small amounts into their drinks. Helvey drank straight from the water bottle containing GHB, according to documents.

When Helvey passed out, the other two tried to rouse her but couldn’t. They got some blankets and pillows for her, and let her sleep, snoring “real loud,” documents said.

Helvey was dead by morning.

If her companions had sought aid for Helvey when she collapsed, “Kyla would not have died,” Rozzano wrote.

Judge Ronald Castleberry allowed both defendants to remain free without bail pending trial, which is scheduled for March 21.

James sobbed throughout the arraignment hearing. Smith broke down after Castleberry refused to let her leave the state to attend a wedding in Las Vegas and a planned vacation in Hawaii.

He also banned Smith from attending a work-related convention in Las Vegas, unless her employer convinces Castleberry that she is required to go because of her employment.

Both defendants also must abstain from alcohol and illegal drugs, Castleberry said.

Controlled substance homicide has been on the books as a crime for a long time, but it is seldom used because of the difficulty of tracing the source of drugs in overdose cases, prosecutors said.

In 2006 Snohomish County prosecutors convicted a 38-year-old man who sold methadone to a teenager. Early last year, the prosecutors charged a young man and a woman with controlled substance homicide for allegedly supplying Ecstasy to a 16-year-old girl who died of an overdose.

The man pleaded guilty and a trial for the young woman is pending.

Henry said she and Helvey’s family hope that people learn from what happened, and someone’s life is saved.

“That’s what Kyla would have wanted,” Henry said.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or jhaley@heraldnet.com.

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