Man pleads guilty to giving friend fentanyl right before his overdose death

A 28-year-old man has pled guilty to controlled substances homicide for causing the overdose death of his friend back in 2020.

On June 12, 2020, a 26-year-old man took what he thought was a Percocet pill that was sold to him by his friend, 28-year-old Ryuji Kawashima. The pill ended up being laced with fentanyl.

Both the victim and his girlfriend had pills from the same batch, but only the victim's had a lethal amount of fentanyl. 

"This case shows you how dangerous illegal fentanyl-laced drugs are," warned Captain Shelby Shearer. "The victim purchased at least two pills. He took one and his girlfriend took the other, and he died. You must assume that unless you get your pain medication from a pharmacy, it’s likely laced with fentanyl, and that can be deadly."

According to charging documents, Kawashima continued to sell fentanyl-laced pills, even after his friend's death.

In the months following the man's death, detectives were investigating Kawashima. In March of 2021, they had enough evidence to arrest him.

"Controlled Substances Homicide cases are incredibly time-consuming and difficult to prove," Shearer stated. "You must prove the victim got the drugs from the suspect and that it was those drugs that killed them. This successful prosecution is a credit to the Bellevue police patrol officers who initially investigated and our detectives who were able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

On Nov. 17, Kawashima pled guilty to controlled substances homicide. 

According to Bellevue Police, the arresting agency, this is the first guilty plea for controlled substances homicide in King County in the last 18 years. 

Controlled substances homicide is a class B felony, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence.