Father on trial for homicide in heroin death of his daughter

Grafton man’s case hinges on whether he committed a crime by driving her to meet Milwaukee drug dealer
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Terry L. Hibbard didn’t sell his daughter the fentanyl-laced heroin that killed her but he drove her to the drug dealer who did, and that makes him guilty of homicide, Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol argued Tuesday during the first day of Hibbard’s trial. 

“But for him giving her a ride to the dealer, Teralyn doesn’t die,” Gerol told the jury during his opening statement.

Gerol was referring to 32-year-old Teralyn Hibbard, who was found dead of a drug overdose at the Town of Grafton trailer home where she lived on Monday, July 10, 2017. A day earlier, her father drove her to 60th Street north of Good Hope Road in Milwaukee where Ms. Hibbard bought the drugs that killed her from a dealer named Davion Poe.

But in Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy’s courtroom on Tuesday, Mr. Hibbard’s lawyer, Gary Schmaus, noted that his client waited in his car while his daughter met with Poe and paid him $60 for heroin during a deal she arranged. Mr. Hibbard didn’t give his daughter money to buy the heroin or handle it except for snorting a small amount his daughter gave him after they drove back to the Town of Grafton, Schmaus said. 

“It’s clear he was not acting as a father ought to act,” Schmaus told the jury of seven men and five women. “You can be disgusted with him. He’s disgusted with himself ... but that doesn’t mean he committed a crime.” 

Using text messages on Ms. Hibbard’s cell phone, the Ozaukee County Anti-Drug Task Force quickly pieced together the last days of her life. And, after initially lying to authorities, Mr. Hibbard helped them arrest Poe by participating in sting operations.

Ten days after Ms. Hibbard’s death, Poe was charged with first-degree reckless homicide. On Feb. 21, 2018, he pleaded guilty to the charge and a month later was sentenced by Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland to eight years in prison followed by 10 years of extended supervision. 

On the day Poe was sentenced, Mr. Hibbard was charged with the same crime for his role in his daughter’s death.

Both men were charged under a law named for Len Bias, the University of Maryland basketball star who, two days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics on June 17, 1986, died of a cocaine overdose. The law, enacted in Wisconsin in 1988, seeks to hold people who sell drugs that result in fatal overdoses responsible for the deaths.

The application of the Len Bias law to Poe’s case was straight forward — he sold the drugs to Ms. Hibbard that resulted in her death.

But the case against Mr. Hibbard is more complex. He is charged with being a party to the crime of homicide, which means that if he aided and abetted the sale of drugs to his daughter, he can be convicted of the crime even if he didn’t sell the heroin to her. Gerol contends that Mr. Hibbard did that by driving her to meet Poe shortly before she died.

Schmaus, however, argued that Gerol is “overreaching” with his application of the Len Bias law to Mr. Hibbard. He said  Tuesday that Gerol is trying “to fit a square peg in a round hole” by using a law meant to get drug dealers off the street to prosecute a man who was an addict but not a dealer.

“It (the Len Bias Law) is a good law if we’re talking about getting dealers off the streets,” Schmaus told the jury. “But Mr. Hibbard had no contact with the dealer, didn’t pay for the drugs, didn’t have anything to do with the transaction or directly transfer the drugs to (Ms. Hibbard).

“In no way did Mr. Hibbard aid or abet Davion Poe in terms of providing drugs to Teralyn.”

What’s not in dispute are the essential facts of the case.

Authorities responding to a 911 call on July 10, 2017, found Ms. Hibbard’s body in a bedroom surrounded by drug paraphernalia — syringes, makeshift tourniquets and “cookers” used to liquefy heroin — as well as Narcan, a medication that blocks the effects of opioid drugs and is used to revive overdose victims. According to a text message authorities later found on Ms. Hibbard’s phone, she overdosed just days before her death and was revived with Narcan administered by her father, the criminal complaint states.

Key to the investigation, as is often the case in drug crimes, was Ms. Hibbard’s cell phone, Gerol told the jury.

“A victim’s phone is a time capsule,” he said. “It allows authorities to go back in time and determine what happened.”

On Ms. Hibbard’s cell phone, authorities found a text exchange about buying drugs with a subject listed as “Daddy,” who they quickly identified as her father.  Also found on the phone was a text message exchange with a person named Cheese, later identified as Poe, about buying $60 of heroin.

When first interviewed by authorities, Mr. Hibbard lied, telling them his daughter was not taking drugs any more and was getting her life back together, Gerol said.

“He said he had no idea where she got the drugs” she overdosed on, he said. 

But in a subsequent interview, Hibbard told investigators his daughter had bought heroin from Poe. When asked how he knew that, Mr. Hibbard said he had driven her to buy the drug as he usually did once or twice a week, according to the complaint.

Ms. Hibbard was visiting a friend in the days leading up to her death when she made arrangements with her father to pick her up in Milwaukee and take her to meet Poe. 

Mr. Hibbard described the heroin she bought from Poe as being “really potent,” the complaint states. 

Mr. Hibbard said that after his daughter purchased the heroin, they drove home, where she gave him a “line to snort.” He said she kept the rest of the heroin, adding that “she always did a lot,” according to the complaint.

Mr. Hibbard said the last time he saw his daughter was around midnight the day she died.

Working with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Mr. Hibbard, Ozaukee County authorities set up two undercover drug buys in which Mr. Hibbard purchased heroin from Poe.

Mr. Hibbard’s trial was expected to conclude Wednesday.

If he is convicted, he would face a maximum 25 years in prison and 15 years of extended supervision.

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