RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A Rio Rancho man who was arrested following the overdose death of a 14-year-old girl will face three years at most in prison, according to terms of a plea agreement announced Monday in District Court in Sandoval County.
Eric Stone, 27, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to distribute controlled substances to a minor. He initially faced three counts of selling drugs to minors, charges that would have carried a potential sentence of 28 years in prison.
After the hearing, Stone’s attorney, John Aragon, blasted local news media who he said were “irresponsible” in their coverage of the case and said his client was cooperative with law enforcement throughout the investigation.
On Aug. 10, 2013, 14-year-old Hannah Bruch and two friends consumed about $100 worth of a form of the drug ecstasy, known as “Molly”. Bruch’s friends told police that Bruch consumed a high amount of the drug.
Reports from medical personnel summoned later that evening to the party said that Bruch’s heart rate was about 200 beats per minute and that Bruch told medics she thought she had taken too much of the drug, the State Police report said.
The case prompted a statewide outcry, including from Gov. Susana Martinez, and a priority investigation by State Police.
Bruch’s parents did not appear to be in the courtroom and could not immediately be reached for comment.
The investigation began with separate interviews of both of Bruch’s friends, identified only by their initials in the criminal complaint. The friends told police they had bought the drug June 28 to use at the Aug. 10 dance party.
They then described how a mutual friend connected the buyers with Stone, who arranged the deal near his home. State Police investigators found the home on Pearl Street based on the friends’ description, according to the complaint.
Investigators later found the mutual friend and interviewed him about the deal. He identified Stone as the man who sold Bruch and her friends the drugs June 28, the complaint states.
On Oct. 2, police caught up with Stone. In a “voluntary, consensual interview,” Stone told detectives that he remembered selling the “Molly” to a girl named Hannah and two friends June 28 and also rattled off details that were “very consistent” with Bruch’s friends’ description of events, the complaint states.
Police then subpoenaed the cellphone records from Bruch, the mutual friend, Stone and Bruch’s friends, which they said confirmed that their timeline of events was accurate, according to the complaint.
However, Aragon said Monday that Stone did not sell the drugs and simply received a call the mutual friend made from Bruch’s phone. Stone then cooperated with police when they contacted him, Aragon said, and he stressed that his client was “not linked in any way to the August events.”
Stone was dressed in a leather jacket and walked on crutches due to an undisclosed leg injury. He said he was taking prescription pain meds for the injury but was otherwise clean of drugs and alcohol. His attorney requested a pre-sentence report to be completed before sentencing. The date for sentencing has not yet been set.