A Fredericton man on trial for allegedly selling drugs in Esgenoôpetitj First Nation is now facing several new charges, including trafficking in fentanyl and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
Jesse Joe, 35, was in Miramichi provincial court on Wednesday for the first day of his trial on charges of trafficking in a controlled substance and breach of probation in connection with a pill containing fentanyl that was found on the reserve in April.
But the court heard he will face a bail hearing on Aug. 30 on three additional counts of trafficking in a controlled substance, one count of trafficking in fentanyl, as well as criminal negligence causing bodily harm, obstruction of justice and breach of probation.
Crown prosecutor Caroline Lirette declined to comment on whether those charges are directly linked to the death of a woman in the First Nation community from a suspected fentanyl overdose on April 11.
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Ann Marie Lambert, 35, the mother of a young son, died before paramedics could get her to a hospital.
RCMP have previously said they were awaiting toxicology results in her death.
Joe's trial, which resumes Thursday morning and continues on Aug. 30 and 31, is not related to Lambert's death.
When police laid the initial two charges against Joe, they said several people from Esgenoôpetitj First Nation had been hospitalized for suspected overdoses of fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller.
The court heard Wednesday from a witness who says he bought and consumed some pills from the accused on April 11, the same night as the fatal overdose in the community, east of Miramichi.
Ethan Mitchell testified he purchased nine round, blue pills marked "Percocet" for $60 from Joe.
After the transaction, Mitchell, 21, said he went home, consumed half of one the pills and gave three of them to his cousin.
Before long, he heard a loud noise, he said. His cousin, Victor Lambert, had fallen face-first on a table.
'I was scared I was going to overdose [too]. But I just shrugged it off.' - Ethan Mitchell, witness
Lambert, 56, had overdosed but survived after paramedics administered Narcan, the courtroom heard.
"I was scared I was going to overdose [too]," testified Mitchell, who described having blurred vision and a racing heart. "But I just shrugged it off."
He had taken Percocet before, but had never experienced those effects, he said, adding he's been sober since then.
A Health Canada analysis confirmed a blue pill seized from the community after the fatal overdose that same night contained fentanyl.
Health Canada describes fentanyl as being about 100 times more powerful than morphine.
The analyzed pill measured about one centimetre in diameter and had "Percocet 5" written on it, police have said.
'I don't remember anything'
Victor Lambert testified he had asked Mitchell for Percocet on the night in question. He took one and a half of the three pills he gave him at around 2 a.m., he said.
"I don't remember anything after."
Lambert said he was addicted to Percocet at the time and could take up to 20 pills a day.
He had never ended up in the hospital before that night, he said as Joe looked on from the prisoner's box, showing little emotion.
During cross-examination, Joe's legal aid defence lawyer, Ed Derrah, said Lambert had told people he took additional drugs that day, including crack cocaine and speed, not just the pills from Joe.
"Just a puff" of crack, replied Lambert. He denied having taken any speed that day.
Joe has been in custody since his arrest April 20. He was denied bail on May 17.
A 60-year-old man from Esgenoôpetitj First Nation, on Miramichi Bay, was also arrested in connection with the case but was released pending a later court appearance.