A Richland man was charged Friday with allegedly dealing "high quality" heroin to two Tri-City people who ended up dying from overdoses.
Brian Haney Burt, 35, is scheduled to appear Wednesday in Benton County Superior Court on two counts of controlled substance homicide.
Prosecutors allege there is a third Benton County victim linked to Burt, but they could not charge him in that 2007 case because the statute of limitations for a drug homicide has expired.
He's accused in the deaths of Liam D. Hermsen, 29, of Richland, and Shirley E. Sanders, 44, of Kennewick.
Burt is being held in the Benton County jail on $250,000 bail.
According to court documents, officers with Richland's Proactive Anti-Crime Team stopped Burt on Tuesday in the Walmart parking lot after seeing him commit a misdemeanor violation -- tossing a cigarette out the passenger window of a car. The driver of the car did not have a driver's license when police stopped them to investigate the violation.
Once Burt was identified, officers learned he had active arrest warrants, including for failing to appear in court.
Burt was arrested and found in possession of seroquel and clonidine, both prescription drugs, documents said. He allegedly did not have prescriptions for the drugs, which state law also requires to be in prescription bottles.
Burt was taken to be 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. He named three people that he had sold heroin to who died after taking the drug, documents said.
Hermsen, a writer and artist, died Nov. 8, 2009, from a heroin overdose. When Richland detectives initially investigated the death, Burt was allegedly identified by Hermsen's relatives as his drug source.
Sanders, a homemaker and a grandmother, died May 22, 2010, at home, also from a heroin overdose. Prosecutors allege Burt was present when she died and was seen by a police officer leaving the room.
Jason Brickey, 34, died in Oct. 30, 2007, at his father's Kennewick home. Investigators then were told by Brickey's relatives that he had spent time earlier that day with Burt. Prosecutors are barred by the statute of limitations from pursuing this death because it is more than 3 years old.
Information about two other drug-related deaths in Franklin County reportedly has been forwarded to investigators there.
Court documents suggest Burt may have a connection to Natasha Eubanks, 29, and Derek Scott Bradley, 21, both of Pasco. Eubanks died in May 2009 from a heroin overdose, and Bradley in June 2010 from overdosing on methamphetamine, said Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant said Friday that detectives are reviewing all cases that Burt might be tied to in the city and the county.
"They're looking at it in light of the information that came about from Benton County," he said.
Those investigations could take up to a few weeks while detectives wait to see if more information "comes to light" through the newly charged cases, he said.