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Accused denies he's culpable for overdose

Told police he had pills but can't be blamed for woman's death

Posted: 02/13/2013 1:00 AM

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Curtis James Haas confessed in a police interview to providing a "safe haven" to a young woman who visited his Manitoba Housing apartment and to having some orange "street morphine" pills, but not to being responsible for the 2007 overdose death of 20-year-old Wendy Henry.

The video of police interviewing Haas, 52, after his arrest was played Tuesday afternoon at his Court of Queen's Bench trial for manslaughter and trafficking.

The case is believed to be the first in Manitoba in which an overdose death resulted in charges against the person alleged to have provided the drug. Winnipeg police have said similar arrests and prosecutions could follow if the current case results in a conviction.

In a video the court saw Tuesday, Haas told police he was a recovering addict and accident prone with the scars from many injuries to prove it. He said he only took prescription medication, such as sleeping pills and Tylenol 3.

Henry collapsed and stopped breathing in October 2007 at Haas's suite after overdosing on morphine.

Police became suspicious after learning another woman in the same block overdosed the previous night but survived. Police took a full sworn statement from Haas the Crown plans to use against him. Defence lawyer Darren Sawchuk is challenging the voluntariness of the statement and will seek to have the judge dismiss it.

On Monday, a security guard testified he saw Haas performing CPR on Henry and that he told the guard she'd gotten into his pills.

In the video Tuesday, Haas said he was given "street morphine" but wouldn't identify the source. He wouldn't talk about Henry taking it.

He told police he'd picked up Henry downtown when friends with whom she was supposed to see the Ozzy Osbourne concert at the MTS Centre didn't show up. When he returned to his suite with Henry, his neighbour and friend Angel joined them. The detectives told Haas that Angel told police Haas gave her morphine there that night. Angel overdosed but survived.

"I think I gave (Angel) five or six and told her not to take all of them at once," Haas said in the video. "She just laughed at me." The police asked Haas if Henry had asked for some morphine, too.

"I don't want to talk anymore," he said in the video.

Haas told the detectives he met Henry when she was there to see her mother who also lived in the subsidized housing apartment block. He was never introduced to her mother by Henry, he said.

"She said 'you are my safe haven away from the nuttiness of my family... They will destroy you,' " Haas told police.

When she overdosed, he called 911 and tried performing CPR.

The detectives asked Haas that if Henry took too much morphine, wouldn't it be her fault that she overdosed.

"I believe it is."

One of the detectives asked if Haas felt morally responsible for Henry's death.

"I only meant to help her," he said. "I didn't mean for anything else to happen."

The trial continues today with the rest of the videotaped police interview shown.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 13, 2013 A6

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