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 is underway Tuesday, following a two-month delay.
Cassandra Staab faces charges of first-degree reckless homicide by delivery of drugs, first-degree recklessly endangering safety and bail jumping 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’s previously scheduled trial in July was abruptly adjourned just before jury selection was about to begin, but was then rescheduled for September. Circuit Judge Jill Falstad is hearing the case, which is expected to wrap up by Friday. Jury selection and opening statements were held Tuesday.
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.
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.
Staab faces up to 40 years in prison if she is convicted on the homicide charge alone.