Suspected heroin dealer faces homicide charge
August 16, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah graduate died from drug overdose
King County prosecutors have 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 fatal dose of heroin to Lyter. Investigators said Pepka continued to sell heroin after learning 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 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 asked 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 while in the vehicle in the Burger King parking lot, the girl later 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 Pepka on Aug. 3. Investigators said they observed him driving the silver Toyota Corolla the girl had described seeing in the Burger King parking lot.
The officers observed Pepka selling 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 the afternoon of Aug. 4. He is due in King County Superior Court for arraignment Aug. 18.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.