EVERETT — One afternoon in April 2020, Jayden Barker-Fisher’s cousin couldn’t wake him up.
The cousin had last seen him the night before, when Barker-Fisher came home from Monroe after hanging out with an old high school friend, according to court documents. Barker-Fisher grabbed a drink of water around 10:30 p.m. and went to bed.
The two had a haircut scheduled together, but by noon, there was still no sign of him. The cousin, who lived in the apartment, went into Barker-Fisher’s bedroom. He appeared to be asleep, but didn’t stir when a large object fell in his room. On a closer look, the cousin reportedly found Barker-Fisher cold, stiff and bleeding from the mouth.
Everett police officers and firefighters responded and declared Barker-Fisher dead at the scene. He was 20.
The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the death was an accident as a result of acute fentanyl intoxication.
Three years later, prosecutors charged Avery Bresnan, 25, of Sedro-Woolley, with supplying him the fatal dose — when he knew how lethally potent the drugs were, because he would “often brag to his customers that his pills killed people.”
Bresnan is accused of controlled substance homicide, a rare allegation in Snohomish County. As of early 2022, only two such cases had been filed in the preceding year.
Barker-Fisher’s cousin told police he found a Tic Tac container in Barker-Fisher’s room with 4½ pills inside, according to the charges filed last week in Snohomish County Superior Court. The pills were light blue and marked with an “M” and “30” on either side. Counterfeit oxycodone M30 pills are sometimes called “blues.” A toxicology report found 7.6 nanograms of fentanyl per milliliter of Barker-Fisher’s blood, along with THC, caffeine and Citalopram, an antidepressant.
Roughly 7 ng per ml or more “have been associated with fatalities where poly-substance use was involved,” according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
A highly potent synthetic opioid, fentanyl has been a factor in about half of all overdose deaths in Snohomish County over the past three years, according to the medical examiner’s office. From 2020 to 2022, there were at least 1,077 fatal overdoses in Snohomish County and 471 of those involved fentanyl.
So far this year, there have been 112 deadly overdoses. Sixty-one involved fentanyl.
In the bedroom, the cousin noticed a message from Bresnan pop up on Barker-Fisher’s phone. Court papers say Bresnan had texted asking if anything happened to him.
After obtaining a search warrant, police discovered messages between Barker-Fisher and Bresnan that were “almost exclusively drug and transportation related,” deputy prosecutor Adam Sturdivant wrote in the charges.
The day before he died, Barker-Fisher and the defendant discussed getting gas money and heading to Monroe together, according to court papers. The texts showed Barker-Fisher was back home after 10:30 p.m., saying, “I’d rather not leave again tonight after everything that happened.”
After his death, a mutual friend messaged Bresnan on Facebook, questioning him about his relationship with Barker-Fisher, according to prosecutors.
“I didn’t charge him so there’s no money involved,” Bresnan reportedly said.
Barker-Fisher’s aunt spoke with detectives about her nephew and Bresnan. In the month leading up to his death, he had been confiding in her more than he had in the past, according to court documents. He mentioned to her that he was dealing with back pain and was out of his prescribed painkillers.
Barker-Fisher also told her that his friend “Avery” sold pills, and he would brag that his pills killed. He reportedly said opiate users sought out drug dealers whose product caused overdoses, as they would be a good high, she recalled in a police interview.
Prosecutors also charged Bresnan with possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver, for having the drugs in April 2020.
If convicted, a first-time offender faces about 4¼ to 5⅔ years in prison for controlled substance homicide under state guidelines.
Bresnan had one drug-related misdemeanor conviction on his record from 2017.
He remained out of custody Thursday, as he has been for the past three years.
Arraignment is set for May 17.
Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.
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