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UPDATE: Homicide trial postponed in heroin overdose death

in Sirens

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — The trial of a 29-year-old Marshfield woman accused of supplying fentayl-laced heroin to a 22-year-old man who overdosed and died was abruptly adjourned after a hearing Monday, just before jury selection was about to begin.

Cassandra Staab was to stand trial this week on charges of first-degree reckless homicide by delivery of drugs, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and bail jumping. The charges were filed more than two years ago in Marathon County Circuit Court. Police say Staab supplied the drugs that caused the January 2017 death of 22-year-old Thomas Bychinski, of Spencer.

Staab is currently incarcerated at Taycheedah Correctional Institution after being convicted in Wood and Milwaukee Counties on an array of drug charges unrelated to the Marathon County case. She was transported to the Marathon County Jail to face trial, but will now be returned to Taycheedah.

According to the criminal complaint police on Jan. 31, 2017 were called to a home on Hansen Road in Spencer after two people found Bychinski’s body. During the investigation, police learned Staab was Bychinski’s regular source for heroin, the report stated.

One witness told police he had been buying heroin from Staab for about a month before Bychinski’s death and that Staab told the witness the heroin was “very potent, powerful stuff,” according to the criminal complaint.

The emergence of fentanyl-laced heroin in Marathon County in June 2016 prompted police to issue a warning to residents about the danger surrounding the drug. At that time, a highly potent strain had been circulating the area that was blamed for at least one death and eight other heroin overdoses in a 10-day span. Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin, making the combination especially deadly, police said.

Circuit Judge Jill Falstad will hear the case, which would have wrapped up on Friday. During Monday’s hearing, Falstad reiterated the defendant’s need for access to shower and shampoo in preparation for her trial appearance.

Future court dates have not yet been set.

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