Zachary Madding, 28 (right), is accused of holding down his girlfriend at a Mukilteo motel, to force Xanax down her throat and fentanyl into her nose. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)

Zachary Madding, 28 (right), is accused of holding down his girlfriend at a Mukilteo motel, to force Xanax down her throat and fentanyl into her nose. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)

Retrial starts for man accused of forcing woman to overdose

His ex-girlfriend claimed he made her ingest fentanyl and Xanax. A mistrial was called in May.

EVERETT — Witnesses reported only seeing the aftermath on May 19, 2018: A woman in her early 20s running through the parking lot of the Staybridge Suites in Mukilteo, crying, her face flushed, carrying a torn bag containing tampons and a swimsuit.

She ran into her boyfriend, who had just arrived to pick her up, and said she needed to go to the hospital.

“You’ll never believe what he just did,” she reportedly said. “He held me down, hit me when I struggled and shoved 15 Xanax down my mouth and held it shut, then shoved fentanyl spray up my nose.”

Then she collapsed from a drug overdose.

The man she referred to was her ex-boyfriend, Zachary Madding, 29, with whom she had spent the weekend and had been in an on-and-off relationship.

At dispute in a trial this week is what happened between them in their hotel room. Prosecutors charged Madding with first-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment.

In opening arguments Tuesday, deputy prosecutor Teresa Cox said Madding often manipulated the woman during their nearly four-year relationship. Whenever she tried to leave, he would lure her back with the promise of drugs, Cox said — he knew how to keep her addicted.

When the woman wanted to leave Madding for good and make an attempt at going clean, Madding forced her to take drugs, Cox alleged.

“He did the only thing that he could to make sure she wasn’t going anywhere,” Cox said.

Defense attorney Natalie Tarantino called the prosecutor’s story “fictional.” There wasn’t enough evidence to determine that an assault had happened at all, she said. The woman had been addicted to drugs for years and previously overdosed multiple times, Tarantino said.

Furthermore, Tarantino argued, the woman had incentive to lie about what happened to her current boyfriend, who wanted to see her sober.

“She decided to use drugs again, and she decided it had to be someone else’s fault,” Tarantino said.

It’s the second time the arguments have been made in the courtroom. Judge Bruce Weiss called a mistrial in May, when a Mukilteo police officer told the jury that the defendant refused to speak to him. Attorneys feared the officer’s comment could color the jury’s perception, causing them to believe the defendant was hiding something.

A new set of jurors gathered this week for a retrial.

Leading up to May 19, the woman testified she’d spent about a month at a house rented through Airbnb in Lake Forest Park. There, she said, she did drugs with Madding and his roommates.

When Madding left for a hunting trip, the woman said she intended to get off of heroin and fentanyl. For her, that meant taking Xanax, which she claimed helped with withdrawals. Madding appeared to agree with the plan. He setup a Netflix account, bought Gatorade and yogurt, and hid Xanax around the house so she could only take a little bit at a time, the woman said.

The plan fell apart, she said. The other two people in the house reportedly let her use their drugs. She said she decided to leave and went back to live with her other boyfriend.

She testified she was sober less than a week and went through withdrawals. One day, Madding called, and reportedly promised her Xanax to help with the pain. All she had to do was sign over the car he had bought in her name.

The woman reportedly agreed. She stayed the night with Madding, and then the weekend. They ended up at the Staybridge Suites in Mukilteo.

The woman’s boyfriend told the jury he received two texts from Madding’s phone the morning of May 19. It was her, he said, saying she wanted to be picked up.

But, the woman said, Madding didn’t want her to leave. He allegedly crushed up Xanax, pushed her onto the bed, and held his hand over her mouth until she swallowed. When questioned, she told the court that Madding hadn’t hit her, but she feared he might.

The woman said she tried to spit some out into a cigarette cellophane wrapper. The thought crossed her mind that she could save some for later, she testified. But Madding saw, she said, and put the wrapper over her mouth until she swallowed.

Prosecutors allege Madding then took a spray bottle with a mix of water and fentanyl, and sprayed it up the woman’s nose. She said she counted eight squirts, though Tarantino noted that in a previous interview she had claimed more.

At some point, the woman said she vomited in the bathroom, though she couldn’t remember when. She knew, though, that she had consumed a dangerous amount of drugs, she said. Because she had taken a break, her tolerance was lower, she said.

Fentanyl can be 30 to 50 times as strong as heroin, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

The woman ran out the door and ran into her boyfriend. She told him what happened, before passing out from an overdose. A bystander, who happened to be a nurse, tended to the fallen woman, while a front desk employee called 911.

Meanwhile, the two men brawled in front of the lobby. In security footage shown to the jury, Madding can be seen shoving another man. The scuffle goes off camera. Then Madding is thrown to the ground.

Eventually, Mukilteo police arrived and used Narcan to revive the woman. They transported her to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Officers found crushed up Xanax on the hotel room bed, as well as two small bottles containing fentanyl, according to charging papers.

Witness testimony was expected to continue Friday. Madding had not testified as of Thursday.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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