Man charged with criminal negligence in Graves' death

Jennifer Hoegg
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By Jennifer Hoegg  

Joshua Graves bought furniture for his new apartment and then went to a party in Berwick March 18, 2011.

He later went with a friend to a home in Cambridge.

The 21-year-old was dead by 4 a.m. the next day.

Charges were laid March 6 - almost a year after the Coldbrook man's death.

Kyle Fredericks, Kentville, 22, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and a trafficking in a controlled substance (hydromorphone) in relation to Graves' death. Bradley Waye, Kentville, 23, is also facing trafficking charges related to the same investigation, but not to Graves' death.

"The RCMP takes the issue of drug trafficking very seriously," RCMP Insp. Mike Payne said in a news release. "We hope today's charges provide some closure for the Graves family."

According to his sister Amy Graves, Joshua died that Saturday after consuming a combination of Dilaudid (hydromorphone) and alcohol.

"I feel really good," she said after news of the charges became public. "It's a real emotional day.

"I have been fighting for these charges to be laid for a year.

Police initially investigated but no charges were laid.

After receiving a toxicology report on her brother's death, Amy lodged a public complaint with the RCMP in September.   

She said the report showed "he had only drank a half a pint of alcohol and a third of a Dilaudid 30 - 11 milligrams. The medical examiner said there were no other substances in his system.

"Josh made a choice. It was a stupid choice and he paid for it with his life," Amy said.  

"The (dealers) who think it's no big deal, ‘they're going to get them anyway. I'm just helping my friends.' Maybe they will think twice about selling these pills if they know they could be held criminally responsible."


Advocacy work

Amy has lobbied relentlessly since Joshua's death for solutions to the problem of prescription drug abuse. She is currently part of an organization called Get Prescription Drugs Off the Streets.

"I really felt something needed to be done. He didn't have a prescription for this drug. How did my brother get his hands on this dangerous drug?

"It is absolutely emotionally and physically exhausting," she said of the last year of fighting for answers.

"My biggest personal goal is to have some sort of justice for my brother. Now I can sleep a little better at night. I can move on.

"I can't control it from here on out. It's in the court's hands now."

RCMP: community support crucial

"It's a really good day," Payne said in an interview.

He said he could not confirm who made the public complaint, but did say Amy's efforts demonstrated the importance of community support.

"Certainly the awareness that Amy Graves has created around the whole prescription drug issue in the valley has been very helpful.

"(It) was a piece in the cooperation that our drug investigation has received.

I have been fighting for these charges to be laid for a year. Amy Graves

"We investigate lots of matters where we are fairly confident what transpired," he added, "but without key information from community our hands are tied as far as charges go."

Payne said criminal negligence charges in suspected drug deaths are "fairly unique.

"Most charges involving criminal negligence involve drunk driving or a crash..."

He said investigators have done a thorough investigation and have consulted public prosecution office.

"The totality of all of our evidence supports these charges," he said.

"We believe we have a good file."

Amy said the Graves family plans to be at Fredericks' April 2 court date and every one after.

She won't be easing up on her advocacy work, however.

"I can never see myself not caring about this issue or trying to change it."

Amy will always remember her brother's excitement at coming home from a job in Alberta to work as an arborist near home.

"He was only here three weeks," she said.  "He never even got to stay a night in his new apartment."





Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Cambridge, Coldbrook, Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Myrna Reid
    March 11, 2012 - 20:40

    March 11, 2012 Dear Editor, Prescription drug abuse and the methadone treatment for heroin addicts, whose expansion people want to see, are blatant misuses of our public resources. Methadone is expensive and is just replacing one drug for another. It doesn’t consider the human’s "sick thinking." Without the mind’s transformation as a result of therapeutic counseling (if a willingness to receive this exists), the addict remains sick. Because judging and condemning sick people is not appropriate, prisons are not the answer. Addicts are already in their own prisons. Fear drove them there and locked the door just as surely as if it were the police. Insecurities and lack of proper direction in life causes a terrible confusion in the addict’s thinking process. Which of us was born with a plan for living in our hand? Without a focused goal to work toward and encouragement along life's journey, many things distract the mind, which stops inner growth. If not corrected immediately, a wrong turn does not make an accomplished goal. Lost, with no way back, the addict loses hope. Stunted emotional growth causes childish thinking so that fear, wrapped with intense feelings of worthlessness, becomes despair. No one has to say, “You are despicable.” The addict will tell you who she is, in those exact words! Maybe he or she sees a doctor, who does what he knows well! (He is just too overworked to do more.). She writes a prescription, then another and another: this suffering person has found the answer: "Stop the Mind!” "Stop the Pain!” until finally it stops permanently: suicide. Sometimes her cries for help are crimes committed in desperation from anger—a natural response, being fear’s defense mechanism. Is it so hard for us to show compassion in human love for a suffering fellow being trying to survive in a bleak mental state? It is not drugs that are needed in most cases; it is the above. We develop self-esteem from love, not drugs. We quiet fears with love, no drugs. We need to use our tax dollars intelligently funding larger treatment centers with well-trained staff and doctors knowledgeable about addiction. Then and there, with care and love, suffering people begin to heal. I realize of course that there is no perfect human system but it is obvious this one is not working. Broken, just like the people trying to live within it! Methadone treatment, although put forth with good intentions, is only the lesser of two evils and the means to an unhealthy end. In closing I will ask, “Should we sit quietly by while the big pharmaceutical corporations get richer and the minds of the people stay sick? Myrna Reid