KENNEWICK -- A 35-year-old alleged drug dealer now is charged with the deaths of three Tri-Citians who overdosed after using his heroin.
In the newest case filed against Brian Haney Burt, the Richland man reportedly found the victim in a poor condition but panicked and left without getting help.
Burt appeared Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court on a new case of controlled substance homicide, a felony. He pleaded innocent and is set for trial Sept. 28.
Burt already has two similar charges in Benton County Superior Court. That trial is scheduled to start less than two weeks later on Oct. 10.
He is being represented in both counties by defense lawyer Gary Metro.
The cases fall under a rarely used law that says a person can be charged for unlawfully delivering a controlled substance that kills someone.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant said Burt is responsible for the death of Derek Scott Bradley, 21, of Pasco.
Burt allegedly brought heroin over to Bradley's home on Byers Road sometime between June 30 and July 2 and the two men used it together.
According to a court document written by Franklin County sheriff's Detective Jason Nuez, Burt went outside to work on his vehicle after injecting himself. Bradley stayed in the house.
A short time later, Burt went inside "and found Derek sitting on the couch nodding off. He said Derek was still alive. He roused Derek, who moved, and Burt assumed he was very high but OK," documents said.
Burt then took a shower and got dressed. That's when he found Bradley on his knees in front of the couch.
"His head was on the floor with his arms behind him. Burt said Derek was cool to the touch and getting stiff. It was clear he was dead," Nuez wrote. "Burt said he panicked, grabbed a spoon that Derek used to heat up the heroin prior to injecting, and left the house."
Burt never tried to contact authorities, documents said.
Bradley's mother came by the house July 2 and called 911 at 3:44 p.m. after she found her son unconscious.
Deputy Travis Mahler was the first to arrive with paramedics and said it was evident the man had been dead for some time.
Several hypodermic syringes were on a coffee table near Bradley's body, including one with visible blood on the attached needle, court documents said. A candle was sitting next to the syringe.
Christina Bradley had gone to check on her son after not seeing him since June 30. She told police that her son "had used narcotics in the past, but to her knowledge had stopped using them during the previous three months," documents said.
An autopsy performed July 8 was inconclusive as to what killed Bradley. Toxicology samples were sent to a Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, and a doctor later determined that he died from a morphine overdose.
Since late April, detectives and prosecutors have been reviewing all cases that Burt may have been tied to in Pasco and Franklin County. That came after he named a number of people who "were dead as a result of him selling heroin to them," including Bradley, court documents said.
On Tuesday, Sant told the Tri-City Herald that this is "a very strong case and we wanted to go forward with this one."
His office is talking with Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller and Deputy Prosecutor Art Bieker to see if "a global resolution" can be reached.
"This is kind of an unusual charge. You don't see this charge too frequently," Sant said. "We hope to resolve it short of trial."
If convicted of one count, Burt could face about four to five years in prison.
Officers with Richland's Proactive Anti-Crime Team stopped Burt on April 26 in the Walmart parking lot after seeing him commit a misdemeanor violation -- tossing a cigarette out the passenger window of a car, documents said. The driver of the car did not have a driver's license.
Once Burt was identified, officers learned he had active arrest warrants, including failing to appear in court.
He was arrested and reportedly had two prescription pills with him but did not have a prescription.
Burt was questioned at the Richland police station, where he reportedly said he was addicted to heroin and had sold the drug for years to support his habit, court documents said.
In Benton County, he is accused in the deaths of Liam D. Hermsen, 29, and Shirley E. Sanders, 44. Prosecutors said Hermsen's relatives identified Burt as his drug source, and that Burt was present when Sanders died.
He also is linked to a third Benton County victim, Jason Brickey, but the statute of limitations expired to charge him with that death.
Burt remains held in the Benton County jail on $250,000 bail.