December 13, 2006 in Idaho

Charges dropped in drug death

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer
 

Prosecutors have dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against a former North Idaho College student who was set to be tried this week for the 2004 overdose death of a classmate.

Cameron Jester’s attorney argued – and a judge agreed – that the involuntary manslaughter case amounted to double jeopardy because the 20-year-old previously was convicted of related drug charges.

Gloria Discerni, 18, died after overdosing on a drug initially believed to be LSD. Authorities learned months later that the drug wasn’t LSD but a “designer drug” identified as 5-MeO-AMT.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas said he dismissed the involuntary manslaughter case after 1st District Judge Charles Hosack ruled that much of the evidence against Jester couldn’t be used at trial.

Prosecutors also wouldn’t have been allowed to tell the jury that Jester had been convicted previously of providing the drug to Discerni.

Douglas on Tuesday said Idaho doesn’t have a law that specifically addresses prosecution of a person who provides a substance that isn’t illegal but results in harm to or death of another person.

The prosecutor said he already has spoken with local legislators about introducing a bill in the 2007 legislative session to allow for prosecution in such cases.

Discerni’s mother declined to comment on the dismissal of the case or on a separate civil suit she and her ex-husband filed against Jester.

Linda Discerni, an Oregon school librarian, said she has been working to inform others on the dangers of drugs like the one that killed her daughter.

She said she couldn’t believe it when first told her daughter died of an LSD overdose.

“I’m a girl of the ‘60s, and LSD was kind of used in experiments,” Discerni said. “It’s always been sort of a benevolent, experimental drug. I had never heard of anyone dying of it.”

Gloria Discerni had struggled with methamphetamine addiction, beginning the summer before her senior year in high school, Linda Discerni said.

Her best friend was killed in a car wreck on prom night, her grandfather had died, and her parents had divorced, her mother said.

The B-plus student and student body officer “just turned on a dime,” Linda Discerni said.

After a year of inpatient treatment, Linda Discerni said, her daughter appeared to be on the right track. She enrolled at NIC and talked about a career in interior design or another field where she could put her artistic talent to use.

Early in the morning on Oct. 13, 2004, Linda Discerni got a call from Idaho. First it was the police, then an emergency room doctor. Her daughter was in a coma when she arrived. Two days later, she died.

Discerni said she could imagine that on the night of the overdose, at a party just blocks from campus, her daughter may have been thinking that LSD, unlike the meth she used, was not addictive.

“Kids that age, they’re risk takers by nature and easily swayed by their peers,” Linda Discerni said. “Parents just need to harp on their kids that it’s plain not safe. Gloria is the perfect example, innocently thinking it was a safe drug, and it wasn’t anything like that.”


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