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Sunday, October 21, 2007

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Laura

No. This was not alcohol, this was heroin. Justin OD'd on heroin. The young man who provided it to him is facing 10-20 years' sentence.

Liz D.

Rider student charged in heroin overdose Kieran Hunt, 19, bought the drug and gave it to Justin Warfield, who later died. Three other students have been cited in the case.

By Rita Giordano

Inquirer Staff Writer A Rider University student was charged yesterday in what authorities say was the drug-induced death of a fellow student, freshman Justin Warfield.

Kieran Hunt, 19, of Piscataway, was charged with being liable in the death, first-degree offense, as well as distribution of heroin and distribution within 1,000 feet of a school, according to Casey A. DeBlasio, spokesman for the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office.

Hunt was accused of selling heroin to Warfield, then injecting it with him in the parking lot of Rider's Westminster Choir College in Princeton.

Later, after Warfield lost consciousness, Hunt and three other students scrawled on his body with markers, according to Princeton Borough police. Police issued disorderly persons citations to Nicholas Landrum, 20, of Mullica Hill; Robert Kelly, 19, of Danby, Vt.; and Bryan Smith, 19, of Freehold. The citations accused the three of harassment.

Hunt has been placed on interim suspension by the university, according to statement in its Web site by Robert Annis, dean of Westminster Choir College and Mordechai Rozanski, university president.

Dan Higgins, university spokesman, said the school was investigating the circumstances of the other three students but had not decided what action to take.

While the university in its statement asserted that alcohol was not a factor in the death, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said that it had not confirmed or ruled out the presence of alcohol.

Westminster Choir College is part of Rider University. The death is the second for Rider this year. In March, another Rider freshman, Gary DeVercelly Jr., died after drinking at a fraternity party on the university's Lawrenceville campus. Two university officials and three students were charged with hazing in the death, though charges against the administrators were later dropped.

Warfield, 18, of Columbia, Md., was described by friends as a gifted singer and composer who had taught himself to play the piano, cello, guitar and drums. He wasn't known as a partier in high school, friends said.

Authorities allege that Hunt traveled to Newark on Tuesday afternoon after his classes and bought heroin. Later, he returned to campus and met Warfield.

The two students went to Hunt's 1993 Buick Regal and parked in a college lot. Hunt allegedly prepared a bag of heroin for Warfield, injected it into one of Warfield's arms and then injected himself with an additional bag of heroin, authorities say.

Not long after receiving the injection, Warfield passed out. Investigators allege that Hunt then called Kelly and they drove Warfield to Landrum's apartment on Witherspoon Street, where they carried him inside around 11:30 p.m.

Warfield was placed on a futon. Hunt, Landrum, Kelly and Smith then drew on him with markers, according to investigators.

A few hours later, Landrum noticed that Warfield was not breathing, police said. He began CPR and called 911, according to authorities.

About 5 a.m. Wednesday, borough police got a 911 call about an unresponsive male at an apartment on the 200 block of Witherspoon. Warfield was taken to the University Medical Center at Princeton. He was pronounced dead on arrival at 6 a.m.

The Prosecutor's Office said Warfield's family told them the student had been prescribed Adderall, a medication that can be used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Witnesses told police that Warfield could have taken several doses prior to the heroin injection.

On Wednesday, police executed search warrants at the Witherspoon Street apartment, Warfield's dorm room in Ithaca Hall, Hunt's room in Seabrook Hall, and Hunt's car. The Prosecutor's Office said it expected to file more drug charges based on evidence seized in the raids, according to the prosecutor's spokeswoman.

Hunt was released on $100,000 bail following his arrest Wednesday night. He is due in Princeton Borough Municipal Court on Monday.

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