PORT ORCHARD — A man charged in the heroin and meth overdose death of a South Kitsap woman pleaded guilty to drug dealing charges in the leadup to trial and was sentenced Friday to more than four years in prison.
Larry R. Mase Jr., 33, had originally been charged with controlled substance homicide for the April 30 death of Heather Marie Marion-Santos, 43. Investigators alleged he provided the drugs that killed her. His trial was scheduled to begin this month, but Mase pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance in a school zone.
Marion-Santos did not know Mase, his attorney told Kitsap Superior Court Judge Kevin Hull, but she had contacted Alyssa S. Doering, 19, who she met in the Kitsap County Jail, asking for the drugs.
Doering told investigators she was the “middleman,” according to court documents, and, like Mase, was charged with controlled substance homicide. But she pleaded guilty to delivery of a controlled substance in a school zone. She is expected to be sentenced next week to 44 months in prison. Mase received 50 months.
Mase apologized, offering his condolences to Marion-Santos’ loved ones.
“I am very sorry for your loss,” Mase said.
Mase’s attorney, Tom Weaver, told Hull that the evidence was unclear on who actually delivered the meth and heroin.
When Marion-Santos contacted Doering, she offered an extra $20 to have the drugs delivered. Marion-Santos’ boyfriend found her in a bathroom unconscious and called 911, giving her CPR at the direction of dispatchers. He told investigators the couple had argued about Marion-Santos’ drug use, and that he observed what was alleged to be Doering and Mase sell the drugs to her.
Weaver said Marion-Santos was withdrawing from heroin and, in the world of opioid addicts, Mase providing her with the drugs could be seen as a “benevolent act.”
“It was clear to me that all these people lived in a world that was all about heroin,” Weaver said.
Deputy Prosecutor Keith Hines said proving the controlled substance homicide would have been difficult.
“It was a tough decision,” Hines said. “But in the end, I would rather have Mr. Mase held accountable in some way for what he did instead of him walking.”
Kitsap Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Grant, the lead investigator, said the resolution did not reflect the amount of work investigators put into the case. He was confident that the statements of witnesses were consistent in showing Mase’s involvement, but acknowledged that controlled substance homicide cases can be difficult to prove in court.
“These cases are hard by nature,” Grant said.
While sentencing Mase, Hull advised him to seek help for his addiction lest he spend his life on the “installment plan,” in and out of prison.