EVERETT — She’d texted her new boyfriend twice that morning in May 2018, saying she wanted to be picked up from a Mukilteo hotel.
Her off-and-on ex-boyfriend, Zachary Madding, told her he didn’t want her to leave.
“He just started acting, I don’t know, mean,” the woman said on the witness stand Tuesday.
She broke down sobbing.
The courtroom went into a brief recess, before she composed herself to tell a story of how Madding forced her to overdose on Xanax and fentanyl. She ran outside and collapsed in the parking lot from an overdose. Mukilteo police revived her with naloxone, an opioid antidote.
Madding, 29, is on trial for first-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. He’s accused of committing those crimes while on probation.
Jurors heard opening arguments Tuesday, as well as testimony from the key witness in Snohomish County Superior Court. Deputies led Madding into the courtroom in a blue dress shirt, clean-shaven, with his black hair slicked back.
Defense attorney Natalie Tarantino told the jury the young woman had “every motive” to lie about the incident in the hotel room. She argued the woman relapsed, and believed her new boyfriend would be mad at her if she was abusing drugs again. The woman was the only one who knew the truth, Tarantino said, about what happened.
“Not kind of, not a little bit — but beyond a reasonable doubt, is it true she was forced to do drugs?” the defense attorney said in an opening statement. “That’s what this case is about.”
The woman’s heroin use predated her two-year relationship with Madding. She told police he was a drug dealer. She’d relapsed around him before, she testified.
She’d been free of heroin for less than a week on May 19, and Madding offered to give her Suboxone and Xanax to help with her withdrawals, according to her testimony. After the woman told Madding she wanted to leave, however, he withdrew the offer, she recalled.
Madding was also upset that she was leaving to be with her new boyfriend.
“Jealousy took over,” deputy prosecutor Teresa Cox said. “He took a handful of crushed up Xanax pills and shoved them down her mouth. … He then shoved a spray bottle of fentanyl fluid, pinned her down on the bed and forcefully sprayed the fentanyl up her nose.”
The woman testified she didn’t resist the Xanax, because Madding had told her something like, “You’re not leaving till you do this.”
“I was scared that if I tried to leave he would hurt me,” she said on the stand.
Under cross-examination, the woman said that as he forced the drug down her throat, she was trying to sneak some Xanax into a cellophane wrapper from a pack of cigarettes.
“Do you have a memory of taking the cellophane wrapper off the cigarettes, for the Xanax?” the defense attorney asked.
“Yeah,” she said.
“So at the time, while this is happening, you’re thinking that you need to save some of these for later?” Tarantino asked.
“Yes,” the woman said, “since he wouldn’t give me any more, when I tried to leave.”
According to her testimony in court, he pushed her shoulder until she reclined on the bed, and then he put fentanyl up her nose. He had given her the drug nasally in the past, she testified.
Earlier, charging papers had accused Madding of pinning her down, throwing her to the floor after giving a potentially lethal dose. On the witness stand, she testified that she told Madding to be gentle with the spray, and that he complied. She said he spritzed the drug eight times in her nose.
“Did that concern you?” asked Cox, the deputy prosecutor.
“Yes, because I had been clean for five days,” she said. “That much, for someone who didn’t have a tolerance, would definitely overdose them.”
Fentanyl can be 30 to 50 times as strong as heroin, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
The woman ran out to the motel parking lot in the 9600 block of Harbour Place, “red-faced, crying, flushed, barely dressed, no shoes on, (with) a ripped bag,” according to a witness statement from the woman’s new boyfriend.
She collapsed from an overdose.
A police sergeant gave her the antidote, and within seconds she sat up and started to talk.
An ambulance rushed her to a local hospital.
At first, police arrested Madding for investigation of second-degree domestic violence attempted murder. But lesser charges were filed eventually.
Inside the motel room, police found bottles of fentanyl, at least 35 Xanax bars and broken pieces of Xanax bars. They also recovered 2 kilos of heroin packed up for shipment by the U.S. Postal Service, according to court papers.
At the time Madding was under investigation for selling and mailing drugs through the dark web, according to court papers. A federal grand jury indicted him in March in U.S. District Court in Seattle, for possession with intent to distribute heroin and conspiracy to distribute the drug.
Last week the woman’s attorney filed a notice that she would plead the Fifth Amendment — asserting her right to remain silent — if asked whether she played a role in the drug enterprise.
“The government has elected not to indict her at this time,” read her attorney’s memorandum.
The woman testified for over an hour Tuesday, before stepping down.
She said she has been sober since that day May 2018. She has moved to the East Coast.
Madding’s trial is set to continue Wednesday.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; email@example.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.