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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Wife guilty in husband’s drug death

A Spokane woman was convicted Thursday of delivering the drugs that killed her husband in February 2004.

A Superior Court jury of six women and six men convicted Christine D. Weber, 28, of controlled-substance homicide after half a day of deliberation.

Weber delivered the heroin that killed James T. Weber, possibly in combination with other drugs. She said she was visiting her husband, from whom she had recently separated, when he ran out of drugs and gave her money to buy more heroin and cocaine.

Testimony indicated James Weber administered heroin to himself as well as to his wife.

She said she expressed concern about his ability to tolerate the drug because he had recently been detoxified while undergoing hospital treatment. But her husband refused to listen to her, the defendant said.

Testimony indicated that the Webers and James Weber’s roommate, Michael Stancil, took heroin together on a Sunday evening and that Christine Weber left her husband’s apartment early the next morning and went to Seattle the day after that. On the same day Weber went to Seattle, her husband was found dead in his apartment at 624 E. Columbia.

Weber said she found out about the death when she returned a day later, on Wednesday morning.

Weber’s defense was that the drugs she supplied didn’t necessarily cause the death. In addition to cocaine and morphine – which human metabolism creates from heroin – an autopsy found three prescription drugs in the victim’s body: a pain killer, a sleeping aid and possibly lethal levels of an antidepressant.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Laiminger and Assistant Public Defender Mark Hannibal argued about whose medical expert had the best credentials to analyze the chemical stew, Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. Sally Aitken or Lake Oswego, Ore., anesthesiologist Dr. Robert Julian.

Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza is to sentence Christine Weber next Friday. Her standard sentencing range remained in question Thursday because of what Laiminger believed was an error in a sentencing guideline chart.

The chart shows a range of 12 to 20 months, but Laiminger said he is confident the 2003 chart – amended in 2004 – was in error. The correct sentencing range is 41/4 to 52/3 years in prison, according to Laiminger.

Hannibal said Cozza will have to resolve the conflicting information.

“It may result in motions of all sorts,” Hannibal said.

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