Hearing in overdose death case set

WINCHESTER — An evidence hearing in the case of a city man charged with felony homicide in the overdose death of a teenager has been set for next month.

Patrick Joseph Bolton, 33, appeared Tuesday in Winchester Circuit Court, where Judge Clifford “Clay” Athey Jr. scheduled the March 25 hearing to review the evidence.

The hearing was scheduled after Bolton’s attorneys, Tim Coyne and Pierre Greene, filed a suppression motion claiming evidence in the case was obtained illegally.

Athey granted an additional defense motion to hire a forensic pathologist at an expense of $4,000.

The expert will investigate “the issues of time, place and causal connection,” all of which must be established to warrant a felony murder charge, according to the document.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Virginia Vile on Tuesday filed a response to the suppression motion, refuting its claims.

In December, Bolton was indicted for felony homicide and distribution of heroin stemming from the Aug. 7 death of 19-year-old Kathrine Folker, who was found unresponsive at Bolton’s apartment in the 500 block of North Loudoun Street. Folker later died at Winchester Medical Center.

The motion alleges that officers from the Winchester Police Department, Virginia State Police and special agents from the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force failed to read Bolton his Miranda rights before questioning him at the scene.

Vile’s response asserts, however, that Bolton was never in “actual or practical custody at the time of the interrogation.”

Officers who questioned Bolton, Vile wrote, made it clear to him that he was not under arrest. All of his statements were made voluntarily.

During questioning and prior to his arrest, Vile’s response claims Bolton confessed to having used heroin and providing the drug to Folker.

Because the defense alleges that Bolton’s statements were elicited unlawfully, his attorneys claim that the subsequent search warrant and items seized by officers are inadmissible in court.

That search yielded an eyeglass case containing two needles, two clear capsules, cotton swabs and two bags containing a “green plant-like material,” according to the search warrant.

Agents from the drug task force later pulled apart a toilet, where they found needles containing heroin that Bolton and his girlfriend, 35-year-old Melissa Larson, had allegedly attempted to flush, court documents show.

A laptop, iPad and two cellphones also were seized.

“At the time the search warrant was obtained, no evidence of drug distribution was presented to the magistrate,” the defense motion claims. “And probable cause did not exist to believe that the phones, computers and other items and their electronically stored information contained evidence of criminal activity...”

In January, Coyne and Greene also filed subpoenas for Folker’s medical records from Winchester Medical Center and Edgehill Recovery Center, court records show.

Vile on Tuesday said that by filing felony homicide charges in cases that fit within the framework of case law — for heroin-related deaths that can be directly attributed to distribution in particular — her office is attempting to protect the community.

“This is a serious issue in our own community, and we are fighting back to protect our victims and their survivors and to make sure that those who distribute heroin to others are aware that they are risking that person’s death,” Vile said.

Larson, who was indicted in December for possession of heroin and obstruction of justice, also appeared in city Circuit Court on Tuesday, where a May 27 date was set for a bench trial in her case.

Larson’s attorney, William “Beau” Bassler, said she is enrolled in a treatment facility in Florida.

— Contact Christopher Earley at cearley@winchesterstar.com

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