Heuer sentenced for role in overdose death
Breana Heuer, 23, Cadott, appeared in court for a sentencing hearing May 22.
Heuer faced one count of First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, as a Party to a Crime; and one count of Manufacturing and Delivering Amphetamine (<=3g), as a Party to a Crime. Both charges are felonies.
The charges stem from a March 2019 incident, when Heuer was accused of helping sell methamphetamine at a business in Chippewa Falls. One person who used the drugs sold, overdosed and died.
At a previous hearing, Heuer pled no contest to the two counts. Charges from other cases were dismissed and read in.
The hearing began with a video presented by the defense.
“For the video, we interviewed a few people who know Breana and have a history with her growing up,” said defense attorney Francesco Balistrieri.
In the video, Heuer began by telling the story of the methamphetamine sale, where she went with friends to get the drugs, after she didn’t have any herself. Heuer also talked about the shock and sadness she felt when she learned someone had died after overdosing on the drugs.
“Thinking about Breana and the kind of girl I knew her to be, I think she probably did it out of trying to do something for somebody on a friendship type of thing,” said former Cadott principal Matthew “Mogey” McDonough in the video.
When the interviewer asked Heuer if she knew people could overdose from meth, Heuer said she didn’t know they could on that little of an amount.
Heuer also told how she progressed to using drugs and the circumstances surrounding her switch from alcohol, to Adderall and then methamphetamine.
McDonough said Heuer was never a bad kid in high school. While Heuer was not perfect and made some poor decisions once in a while , McDonough said she was never violent, nasty or disrespectful.
“When she got a consequence, she took it,” said McDonough.
Family friend Tara Woodford talked about how Heuer was good with her children growing up and babysat them sometimes.
Heuer said she takes some accountability for what happened, but not all of it, since she feels the friend who went with her is also partially to blame.
Woodford and McDonough also noted the person who took the drugs, also made the decision to do so.
Heuer said in the video she is pregnant with her first son.
“This baby is having a big role on my thoughts and my actions, too, lately,” said Heuer. “And I don’t even think about getting high anymore...I’m not going to go back to that person that I was.”
Heuer also said jail is the best place for her right now, if she doesn’t have treatment or guidelines for when she is out. She also said she would like to form a sober community around her.
State representative Roy Gay said no members of the victim’s family wished to speak.
Judge Steven Cray then asked the state for their sentencing recommendation.
Gay said he recommends following the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) for the first count, but is deviating from the recommendation for the second count. Gay said he would like to see the sentence be consecutive instead of concurrent, as recommended by the PSI, but stay it. He suggested Cray place Heuer on probation for three years, consecutive to Count 1.
Gay said 10 years of supervision seems appropriate and is needed to ensure Heuer gets, and stays, sober.
Gay noted Heuer continued to use meth after she was taken into custody and released for this case.
“I think the court is well aware of how addictive methamphetamine is and how diffi cult it is to break that habit,” said Gay.
Gay also requested restitutions be determined within 60 days.
Gay also says the others involved in the incident will be charged, adding the state waited to charge for evidentiary and strategic reasons.
Balistrieri said the defense’s recommendation is to impose and stay the sentence, placing Heuer on probation for five years. Heuer would be required to make a goodfaith effort to complete treatment, as a condition of probation.
“She still has a potential to change,” said Balistrieri. “And she wants to change now, both for herself and for her unborn child.”
They argued Heuer is an addict, but not a bad person, and that prison would take Heuer away from her child.
“She can get the treatment that she needs through probation, specifically through treatment court,” said Blistrieri.
He said he thinks treatment outside of confinement should be the first option, with treatment in confinement if she fails.
Balistrieri argued Heuer is not a danger to the community and that the circumstances of the situation show Heuer is not a dealer.
“She didn’t have any meth to sell,” said Balistrieri, adding Heuer did not financially benefit from the sale.
Heuer then made a statement where she said she was sorry for the loss of the victim’s family and that she feels awful.
Cray said the first thing to consider in sentencing is the gravity of the offense.
“Miss Heuer, you were involved in the death of another person,” said Cray.
Cray said others are culpable, but Heuer is culpable as well.
“You facilitated putting poison into another human being’s body,” said Cray.
When considering Heuer’s character, Cray says he thinks Heuer tries to be a good person, but is an “out-of-control drug addict.”
Cray also added Heuer will also be a danger to the public if she relapses and that extensive treatment is needed. “You will also be a danger to yourself,” said Cray.
Cray went on to say rehabilitation is an extremely strong factor in the matter.
“I believe that you need the most comprehensive sort of treatment for drug addiction that can be supplied to you,” said Cray.
Cray also noted deterrence of others is a factor in his decision.
“I don’t know how many people have to die because of drugs, to get the message home that selling drugs is selling poison,” said Cray.
Cray said confinement is needed to protect the public from continued criminal actions by Heuer. He also noted treatment is most available in confinement. Cray also said probation would unduly deprecate the seriousness of the crime.
Cray says he thinks it will take a significant amount of time for Heuer to participate in treatment.
For Count 1, Cray sentenced Heuer for a period of six years and six months, with three years and six months of initial confinement, and three years of extended supervision. Heuer was also sentenced for a period of six years and six months for Count 2, with initial confinement lasting three years and six months, and extended supervision for three years. The second count is concurrent with Count 1.
Heuer was found eligible for the Challenge Incarceration Program and the Substance Abuse Program.
Heuer was also granted 291 days of credit for the time she has already served.
“I can’t recommend to you enough the suggestion that you participate in the Substance Abuse Program,” said Cray. “If you were to participate in that, it could accelerate your returning to the community.”
Cray also went over the conditions Heuer is to follow during extended supervision, including that she is not to use any intoxicants and have no contact with others involved in the incident.