An Esko man who allegedly supplied the fentanyl that led to a February overdose death in St. Louis County made his initial appearance Wednesday, Oct. 28 in Douglas County Circuit Court.
Luke John Hansmeyer, 35, faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide. He was in custody at the Douglas County Jail. Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy set cash bail at $100,000 with conditions that Hansmeyer have no contact with the victim's parents or Colton Lurye, who is connected with the case. A warrant that was issued Oct. 21 with the criminal complaint was quashed.
Both Hansmeyer and the overdose victim were from Minnesota, but the drugs were sold to the victim's girlfriend at a Superior residence by Lurye, according to the complaint.
After speaking with the victim's girlfriend and examining text message conversations between her and Lurye about the drug buy, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Lurye’s Superior residence. They reportedly found 482 pills weighing more than 82 grams in Lurye's bedroom. The pills were marked as oxycodone, but crime lab tests confirmed the presence of fentanyl.
Lurye, 27, was charged Feb. 18 in Douglas County Circuit Court with one felony count of possession with intent to deliver narcotics. The case remains open.
After entering into an agreement with the district attorney’s office in June giving him immunity for his statements and consideration of lesser penalties for the narcotics case, Lurye identified Hansmeyer as the supplier of the pills.
A police search of phone messages between Lurye and Hansmeyer indicated that Lurye did not have any pills to sell until after Hansmeyer dropped a supply off at his Superior residence about half an hour before the pills were purchased, the complaint said.
Law enforcement conducted a series of controlled purchases of cocaine from Hansmeyer involving Lurye in August. Following Hansmeyer’s arrest, he admitted to supplying Lurye with opioid pills, which he received in shipments from another state. He also acknowledged that the February phone message to Lurye regarding the pills sounded like something he would write, the complaint said.
Public Defender Ellen Craker, who represented Hansmeyer, asked the court to consider mitigating circumstances, including family support and employment, in setting bail. Hansmeyer, a lifelong member of the Twin Ports community, has a realtor's license and was in the process of going through a training process for a new job when he was arrested. He is one of 10 children, Craker said, and is currently living with his parents, who were present in court.
Assistant District Attorney Chad La Lor stressed the seriousness of the charge and told the court that Hansmeyer has a pending drug charge out of St. Louis County. It was not listed in Minnesota online court records Wednesday.
Hansmeyer's next court appearance was set for Nov. 4. The homicide charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.
Lurye's next court appearance is set for Nov. 13. The possession with intent to deliver narcotics charge, a class E felony, carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.
This is the second drug-induced homicide case to be prosecuted in Douglas County in response to the opioid epidemic.
Nathan Edward Birkholz, 25, pleaded no contest Jan. 17 in Douglas County Circuit Court to one count of first-degree reckless homicide for selling drugs used in the fatal overdose of Neil Christianson, 25, of Superior, on Nov. 25, 2016. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and eight years of extended supervision.