Parents 'shocked' at son's fentanyl manslaughter charge

Parents of the Edmonton man facing a manslaughter charge in connection with a fentanyl overdose death say their hearts go out to the person who died and say their son wouldn't intentionally harm anyone.

Parents of man accused of manslaughter say he was ‘too addicted to make rational decisions’

George and Helen Yarmey say their son Jordan has an opioid addiction but wouldn't hurt anyone (Trevor Wilson CBC News)

Parents of the Edmonton man facing the city's first manslaughter charge in relation to a fentanyl overdose death say their son is a kind person who would never intentionally harm anyone. 

George and Helen Yarmey talked to reporters after their 25-year-old son made a brief court appearance Thursday.

Jordan Yarmey was charged with manslaughter Monday, nine months after the body of Szymon Kalich was discovered in a south Edmonton residence.

"He's always been a great kid, he's never been in trouble," said Helen Yarmey.

Her son has admitted to having drug problems, she said, but maintains his innocence on the manslaughter charge.

"He says, 'I own up to this trafficking. I shouldn't have done that.'

"But he says, 'I cannot own up to someone dying because I didn't give him anything and I wouldn't want anyone hurt,'" she said.

Kalich was discovered dead Jan. 27 in the Laurel neighbourhood. Toxicology reports confirmed he had consumed a deadly amount of fentanyl, a drug considered 100 times more potent than morphine.

Yarmey said her son did not know Kalich well but she believed the pair had played video games together.

'It's a very fast downward spiral' 

Yarmey's parents said their son has struggled with a serious opioid addiction since last November when he mistakenly took fentanyl tablets, believing they were made of the less potent OxyContin. 

"Once you take it,you're hooked and it's a very fast downward spiral and you have no control. You can't differentiate between right and wrong," said George Yarmey outside court, adding his heart goes out to the Kalich family.

Yarmey's parents both said their son could easily have been the one who died. They said he's overdosed more than once.

"It's just very unreal, you know, we go to sleep at night and wake up hoping it's a bad dream and it's not real," said Helen Yarmey.

'Put a splash in the paper'

Edmonton police have previously said they charged Yarrmey with manslaughter after an "extensive investigation" and want to assure people they take these cases seriously. 

But defence lawyer Timothy Dunlap is accusing police of trying to make an example of his client.

"It's the opportunity for the police to put a splash in the paper," said Dunlap, who has promised to fight his client's manslaughter charge to "the bitter end."

It's like putting a bullet in a gun or two bullets in a gun and spinning the chamber- Larry Mullins

"The public should know that these charges are from January and are from the exact same set of circumstances that Jordan was arrested for in January," said Dunlap, referring to when Kalich was first found dead.

The defence lawyer said Yarmey had been released on bail and was getting treatment for his addiction, as the court had told him to do.

Yarmey's lawyer Timothy Dunlap believes his client is being made an example of (Trevor Wilson CBC News)

Dunlap said his client was arrested again on Monday while at a meeting with his probation officer.

"He wasn't on the street, he wasn't breaching, he wasn't doing anything suspicious," he said.

Support for manslaughter charge

Larry Mullins is watching the Yarmey case with interest. He doesn't have a direct connection to the case but as the father of a young man who died from a fentanyl overdose, he can relate.

Mullins, a retired police officer who lives at Pigeon Lake, said he supports the decision by Edmonton police to charge Yarmey as a way to deter dealers from selling potentially deadly drugs.

His own 21-year-old son Logan died of a fentanyl overdose in Edmonton on Aug. 20.

"By giving someone one of these pills, it's like putting a bullet in a gun or two bullets in a gun and spinning the chamber," Mullins said. "If they realize that, they're going to say 'Gee, is it worth going to jail for 25 years?' "

Mullins would like to see the person who sold his son the drug that caused his overdose charged with manslaughter.

"That's what I pushed for," he said. "I'd like to have justice for my son but 90 per cent of my goal is to keep other people from being killed by fentanyl, and I think deterrent is the way to do it."

Logan Mullins, 21, died of a fentanyl overdose in August. (Supplied)

Yarmey's parents said his rapid addiction to fentanyl is another warning about the danger of the deadly drug which has been linked to the deaths of 153 Albertans in the first half of 2016.

"Everyone needs to speak to their kids. There's nothing safe out there right now," said Yarmey's mother.

Jordan Yarmey will be back in court for a bail hearing Monday Oct. 31.