Bellingham women sentenced for dealing teen deadly dose of heroin

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 13, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - Two Bellingham women have been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for making a teenager overdose on heroin so they could steal his bank card.

Lucy Lillian Pearson, 33, and Nichole Star Coggins, 27, an on-and-off couple, pleaded guilty this week to controlled substance homicide for their roles in the death of William Viktor Litvin, of Chelan, who moved here to study at Western Washington University.

On a Friday night in October 2013, Litvin had been drinking and taking cocaine at a small house party in the Sehome neighborhood. Sometime after midnight he wandered outside and met two women, Pearson and Coggins, who agreed to sell him heroin.

Coggins wrote a text at 4:17 a.m. to Pearson: "baby getting him so high he passes out or knock him out and we will hit the atm," according to charging papers. Two minutes later security footage captured Litvin, Coggins and Pearson withdrawing cash at an ATM on Holly Street.

Together they walked to Franklin Park, where they shot up heroin and looked at the stars, according to the charges. A half-hour later they doubled his total dose. As he nodded off, Pearson took his bank card. Coggins propped Litvin on his left side so he wouldn't choke on vomit, she later claimed. She checked his pulse and made sure he was still breathing.

Neighbors found Litvin dead in the morning. His wallet, ID and cellphone were missing. An autopsy showed he had cocaine, opiates, marijuana and alcohol in his blood. He was 19.

Litvin's credit card was used 41 times after his death. A Bellingham detective, Jana Bouzek, found security footage of Coggins and Pearson swiping the card at a McDonald's, a car wash and a gas station. They spent more than $1,000 in two days.

Pearson was arrested in mid-February on warrants and held in the county jail; U.S. Marshals arrested Coggins at a rehab center in Yakima on the same day charges of second-degree murder were filed.

Both women pleaded guilty Thursday, June 12, to a reduced charge of controlled substance homicide, second-degree theft and two counts of identity theft at their plea hearings.

Members of Litvin's family attended the sentencing hearing; a teacher wrote a letter about Litvin's academic achievements. He'd been an honors student in high school.

"He was really an amazing young man, and extremely bright," said Prosecutor Dave McEachran. "He was trying to find his way in the world."

Because of her six prior felonies, Pearson - who chose not to address the court Thursday - must serve 10 years behind bars, Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig ruled.

Coggins told the judge she regretted what she'd done. She had petty crimes on her record, but no felonies. Uhrig sentenced her to eight years and four months at the state women's prison near Gig Harbor.

Corrected on Monday, June 16. A family member mentioned in an earlier version of this story did not, in fact, speak at the sentencing hearing.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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