Laubach charged with third-degree murder in drug death

Jason Karl Laubach, 28, was arraigned on charges of third-degree murder Monday in St. Louis County Court in connection with the drug-related death of Joe Henry DeRusha last September.

Jason Karl Laubach, 28, was arraigned on charges of third-degree murder Monday in St. Louis County Court in connection with the drug-related death of Joe Henry DeRusha last September.

Bond was set at $50,000 by District Judge David M. Johnson, who heard the case after both Carlton County judges recused themselves from the case. Following the hearing, Laubach was returned to the Carlton County Jail.

According to the criminal complaint, on Sept. 1, 2009, Carlton County Sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call to 2324 Lac La Belle Road in Carlton. Upon entering the home, deputies found DeRusha lying non-responsive on a couch in the basement with his mother performing CPR. A deputy continued CPR until the ambulance arrived, and DeRusha was transported to Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet, where he was pronounced dead.

The subsequent autopsy that was performed on DeRusha's body to determine the cause of death delayed further prosecution of the case for several months.

"Part of the reason for the year-long wait from the initial call to charging on the Laubach case was because we were waiting on the autopsy results and toxicology of the victim," said Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake. "I don't think we got the autopsy back until March 2010, and after that was compiled along with some toxicology and additional necessary follow-up it was sent to the county attorney, who reviewed it and made the ultimate decision regarding when and what to charge with."


Autopsy results concluded that DeRusha died as the result of a multiple drug overdose of methadone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone, all of which were present in DeRusha's body in lethal amounts.

DeRusha's fiancée later told investigators that on the evening of Aug. 31, 2009, DeRusha received a text message from Laubach arranging a meeting at Laubach's residence on Highway 23 in Wrenshall. After DeRusha and his girlfriend arrived, she said DeRusha went into the residence and came back out with a plastic syringe containing a "pinkish-reddish" liquid, which she said DeRusha told her at the time was methadone.

Upon arriving back at their rural Carlton residence, DeRusha reportedly went into the bathroom with the syringe and then went to bed. His fiancée said she awoke around 4 a.m. and discovered DeRusha was non-responsive, so she called 911.

The following day, sheriff's department investigators conducted a search of Laubach's residence at 2415 Highway 23, Wrenshall. During the search, reports said, officers found several plastic syringes that were very similar to the syringe DeRusha had in his possession when he left Laubach's residence the night before.

Investigators also discovered that DeRusha had never been prescribed methadone at any time by his family doctor, though he had at one time been prescribed hydrocodone for a knee injury.

Further investigation, according to reports, showed that DeRusha had indeed received a text message arranging a meeting from Laubach on the night in question and at the approximate time stated by his girlfriend.

Based on the information gathered and the seriousness of the crime, Laubach was arrested and charged with one count of murder in the third degree for providing a controlled substance to DeRusha, though without intent to cause his death. The charge is punishable by a maximum sentence of 25 years in jail and/or $40,000.

Laubach is slated to make his next court appearance on Tuesday, Aug. 24.

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