Suspected dealer faces homicide charge after overdose claims Issaquah graduate

August 11, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 3:30 p.m. Aug. 11, 2011

King County prosecutors last week filed a seldom-used drug homicide charge against a Seattle man accused of selling a fatal dose of heroin to a former Issaquah High School student.

Prosecutors said Adam F. Pepka, 20, sold the heroin Zachary Lyter injected May 3. Investigators said Lyter later died from a heroin overdose. Lyter’s father discovered the former Issaquah High football player dead at the Bellevue home they shared the next day.

Investigators later determined his blood contained overdose levels of opiates. Police said Lyter admitted his drug problem to family members not long before he died. Officers discovered syringes and drug paraphernalia in his room during the investigation.

Pepka faces a charge for controlled substances homicide, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. Under state law, a controlled substances homicide is treated similar to manslaughter.

In order to convict Pepka, prosecutors must prove he sold the heroin to the fatal dose to Lyter. Investigators said Pepka continued to sell heroin after he learned about Lyter’s death from a 17-year-old girl.

“The defendant learned within days of Lyter’s death that Lyter had died as a result of using the heroin that he and a 17-year-old witness purchased from the defendant,” Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mary Barbosa stated in charging documents. “Nevertheless, on Aug. 3, 2011, the defendant was again involved in the sale of heroin.”

Bellevue police investigators said Lyter and Pepka exchanged multiple calls and text messages on the day of the heroin sale. Pepka then met Lyter and the 17-year-old girl in the parking lot at the Issaquah Burger King at about 8 p.m. May 3 to complete the transaction, court documents state. Investigators said Lyter used $60 from the girl to purchase the drug.

Police said she and Lyter started using heroin together a couple of times each week in the months before he died. The girl also told investigators Lyter always made the arrangements to buy the drug, court documents continue.

Pepka and Lyter exchanged a series of text messages May 3 to set up the heroin transaction.

They intended to meet at a drugstore in Factoria, but changed the location to the Issaquah fast-food restaurant.

“How long till you’re here,” Lyter wrote in a message to Pepka at 7:40 p.m. “My friend I’m with gotta go very soon.”

Just after the transaction, Lyter prepared some heroin and injected himself in the vehicle at the Burger King parking lot, the girl told police. They then left the restaurant and returned to the Lyter residence, and injected more heroin inside his bedroom, court documents continue.

Police used the girl’s statement, Lyter’s cellphone records and statements from Lyter’s father to identify Pepka as the source of the fatal heroin dose.

“In several of Pepka’s texts, he acknowledged his involvement in the heroin delivery to Lyter,” Bellevue Detective Jerry Johnson stated in court documents. “Pepka also attempted to minimize his involvement at times by indicating that he was just a middle man in the transactions and the Lyter also assumed the risk that can be involved in heroin use.”

Bellevue police officers conducted surveillance on the suspect Aug. 3. Investigators observed Pepka driving the silver Toyota Corolla the girl had described seeing in the Burger King parking lot.

The officers observed Pepka sell heroin to a 32-year-old man in Mountlake Terrace. The customer later told police he started buying heroin from Pepka in early 2011, and they used heroin together.

Police later arrested Pepka, but he declined to give a statement to investigators. He posted $50,000 bail and authorities released him from the King County Jail on the afternoon of Aug. 4. He is due in King County Superior Court for arraignment Aug. 18.

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6 Responses to “Suspected dealer faces homicide charge after overdose claims Issaquah graduate”

  1. Marlee on August 11th, 2011 4:50 pm

    I feel bad for the family and people involved and agree drugs like heroin should be taken off the streets. But its not the drug dealers fault the drug dealer didn’t put those drugs in his veins. He should be put away for dealing and possession not manslaughter.

  2. former opiate addict on August 11th, 2011 6:18 pm

    This is BS… the kid wanted the drugs, and did them – he was 20 years old, an adult! Sure this dealer is POS and should be sent to jail, but murder charges from an OD? When are we going to make people responsible for their own actions? It’s always someone else’s fault…. The kid knew what he was doing when he did it. IT’s a terrible tragedy, but it’s not the dealers fault this kid died, it is his own! If Pepka hadn’t been selling the drugs, someone else would have and this kid would still have died…..? It is sad, but the fault is his own.

  3. Rick Smith on August 11th, 2011 10:25 pm

    I have to wonder what “morally superior” prosecutor approved the filing of these charges? They probably think they are somehow championing the human rights of the deceased. Bupkis. A horribly inappropriate use of public resources in a terribly overworked and understaffed agency.

  4. From Afar on August 12th, 2011 3:27 am

    If they are going down this pathway there is a long list of culprits including gun manufacturers and cigarette producers. Seems dubious at best and likely won’t hold up in court. I feel bad for the family – an unfortunate loss. May he RIP.

  5. Doug on August 12th, 2011 11:21 am

    Why stop there. Let’s charge the state with homicide everytime a drunk kills someone on the road.. They supplied the booze, right?

  6. Anonymous on August 12th, 2011 3:56 pm

    When are they going to start holding “dr feel goods” accountable for prescribing pain pills to addicted patients? I think the dealer is at fault, but the boy was old enough to know better.

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