The trial of a 23-year-old Kings County man charged in the drug overdose death of another young man began Tuesday in Kentville provincial court.

Kyle David Fredericks, of Kentville, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and trafficking in a controlled substance in the death of Joshua Graves.

Graves, 21, died on March 19, 2011 after taking a lethal mix of alcohol and Dilaudid at a house party in the Annapolis Valley the night before.

"We're very happy it's finally here," said Karen Graves, Joshua Graves' mother. "We're growing very tired. It's been almost two years."

Tuesday's testimony began with Brittany Balcom, who described herself as a "really, really, really, close friend" of Graves.

Balcom testified she was at the house party with Graves on the night of his death and he drank about ¾ of a quart of rum, while she drank coolers. She said she didn't suspect Graves had taken drugs until the two of them returned to her house later that night.

Balcom said she asked Graves that night if he'd taken drugs, to which he replied that he had not. She testified that in retrospect, she believes Graves was stoned while at the party.

She said she saw the accused, Fredericks, several times at the party but never saw him using drugs or selling them.

Balcom said she didn't realize Graves was dead when she left for work the next morning.

Pills in question

Aaron Robichaud, who hosted the Berwick house party attended by Graves and Fredericks, also took the stand and said he had snorted two crushed four-gram Dilaudid pills around suppertime and the effects had mostly worn off by the party.


Karen Graves says her family is relieved the trial has finally begun. (CBC)

Although Robichaud said in a videotaped statement to police that he saw Fredericks with Dilaudid or a crusher at the party, on Tuesday he testified he was under the influence of Dilaudid at the time of the interview and was mistaken.

The Crown prosecutor then requested the court view the entire three-hour videotaped statement given by Robichaud.

Karen Graves said it was painful to listen to the testimony.

"I can never describe how difficult it is," she said. "I would just hope that these young people all tell the truth in Josh's honour, and that way it will educate others and something like this won't happen again."

Fredericks' trial is expected to last until the end of the week.

He was charged after Graves' sister, Amy Graves, mounted a public campaign urging police to reopen the investigation into her brother's death.