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Defendant in Grand Forks drug death case pleads not guilty

A Grand Forks man pleaded not guilty Friday on charges of selling heroin that resulted in an overdose death last January. During a pretrial hearing Friday, Officer Darin Johnson, who works as an investigator for the Grand Forks Narcotics Task For...

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Michael Miller and Jayme White

A Grand Forks man pleaded not guilty Friday on charges of selling heroin that resulted in an overdose death last January.

During a pretrial hearing Friday, Officer Darin Johnson, who works as an investigator for the Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force, testified that Kristen Guillemette texted Michael Edward Miller on Jan. 5, 2017 to buy drugs.

The messages show the two met on the 2000 block of First Avenue North around 11 p.m., according to an affidavit for Miller's arrest.

Guillemette died later that night, and an autopsy confirmed she had overdosed. Multiple substances were found in her system.

Johnson was assigned to follow up on investigations related to the overdose death. He said Miller was the only one Guillemette had contacted to purchase drugs and he was the sole suspect. Johnson interviewed Miller several times and he admitted to selling Guillemette heroin the night she died.

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Miller's attorney, Erik Escarraman, argued he may not be responsible for Guillemette's death because she'd taken several different drugs. The court found enough probable cause to proceed.

If convicted, Miller could face 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

He is also facing felony charges for allegedly selling heroin to a confidential informant on April 30. Johnson said Miller warned the informant to be careful with the drugs because they were strong.

If convicted, he could face 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Seven other people were arrested for charges related to controlled substances on the same day as Miller. Police said 15 grams of heroin, worth approximately $9,000, was seized during the arrests.

Jayme Lynn White, 26, also appeared in court Friday and pleaded guilty to charges related to selling heroin.

White allegedly sold heroin to a confidential informant at the 2500 block of Seventh Avenue South on May 8 around 3 p.m., according to an affidavit for her arrest.

She faces three felony charges for delivering a controlled substance and possessing a controlled substance with the intent to deliver. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each charge.

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Grand Forks District Judge John Thelen maintained a previous ruling that White should be held without bond. Thelen said he may have ruled differently initially, but he's not going to "disrupt what the judge of record has on file," and stated concerns that when White was released on bond for other charges, she violated the conditions of release by testing positive for drugs.

"In addictive situations, there's always a danger that they are not going to come back to court again because they could be pulled into the addiction cycle again," he said.

Thelen also ruled not to lower Miller's bond because of the severity of his charges, the risk of fleeing and to keep the community safe.

Prosecutor Carmell Mattison said Miller endangered the community by continuing to sell drugs after they resulted in a death.

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