Local News

Witness Says Bad Choices Caused Garner Teen's Death

Posted June 9, 2006

— In October 2005, Larry Kass was drawn into a nightmare he will never forget. The 15-year-old son of a friend rushed into his home, asking for help for 16-year-old Erica Hicks.

Hicks and her friends had been at a party in Raleigh, where she allegedly ingested drugs. She later drove herself, the boy and another girl back to the boy's Cary home, where she became deathly ill.

According to Cary emergency response records, a 911 call was placed from the home around 30 minutes before the boy went to Kass' home, but the boy claimed it was made accidentally. She later died at Western Wake Medical Center of a drug overdose.

The teen is now charged with second-degree murder, a charge Kass says is unfathomable given the situation.

"There was no doubt about the fact they had done some really incredibly stupid things and they were going to have a price to pay for it, but we were shocked when they came out with the second degree murder charge," said Kass.

When the boy came to Kass's house, he asked him to take Hicks to the hospital and told him she was having seizures. After finding Hicks unresponsive at the teen's home, Kass called 911. But it was too late.

Prosecutors say the lag time in getting help directly resulted in Hicks' death. But Kass is convinced the boy was simply afraid and didn't know how serious the situation was.

"The perception that somehow they knew she was going to die," said Kass. "These are 15-year-old kids. They don't have any experience with this. They've never seen a drug overdose before. They didn't know what was going on."

Kass questioned why no one else has been charged. Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said the teen charged is the most culpable because he gave Hicks drugs and originally told the 911 operator there was nothing wrong.

"To me, to lay there and watch your friend die and not get help and actually prevent help from getting there seems more to me than just a kid making a bad decision," said Willoughby.

But Kass said he believes bad choices, not murder, is the behind Hicks' death.

"The whole question of malice that's being bantered around by prosecutors really strikes me as bizarre," he said. "He was a scared 15-year-old kid."


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