Lewiston man charged after girlfriend dies using cocaine

Paul Michaud, left, and his defense attorney Adam Sherman, center, look to Assistant District Attorney Josh Robbins during Michaud's initial appearance on furnishing drugs Friday in Lewiston's 8th District Court.
Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Paul Michaud, left, and his defense attorney Adam Sherman, center, look to Assistant District Attorney Josh Robbins during Michaud's initial appearance on furnishing drugs Friday in Lewiston's 8th District Court.
Posted Dec. 01, 2012, at 9:25 p.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — A local woman who suffered a medical crisis after using cocaine at her boyfriend’s home has died.

Tracy Harris, 39, was hospitalized Wednesday after her boyfriend, Paul A. Michaud, 47, called emergency workers to his Prospect Avenue home. Harris died at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Friday morning.

Hours later, Michaud was in 8th District Court in Lewiston to answer charges of drug trafficking and furnishing drugs.

Judge Rick Lawrence set Michaud’s bail at $30,000 property or $5,000 cash, with the conditions that he be supervised by Maine Pretrial Services and that he not drink or take drugs.

Lawrence also strongly advised Michaud to reconsider attending a service for Harris because her family would be upset by his presence.

Michaud’s lawyer, Verne Paradie, said his client is expected to post bail Monday.

However, Michaud may face additional charges. Paradie said the district attorney’s office has advised him that it is considering manslaughter charges in the wake of Harris’ death.

Paradie said his client is distraught at Harris’ death and that blaming him for it would be “unfortunate.”

“This isn’t a situation where somebody’s forcing somebody to take drugs or somebody’s forcing somebody to drink too much,” Paradie said. “According to the police report, the two were consensually, mutually participating in drug use.”

He said Harris had been experiencing chest pains and numbness in the days before her cocaine use and he believes a heart attack may have been to blame or may have been a contributing factor.

“Obviously, it’s a very sad situation,” Paradie said. “Paul feels awful that this has happened.”

In court documents, police said Michaud called for help shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday, telling emergency dispatchers that Harris was in cardiac arrest. A Lewiston police officer arrived first, failed to find Harris’ pulse and started CPR. The Lewiston Fire Department and United Ambulance arrived soon after.

As ambulance workers continued CPR, court documents said, the Lewiston police officer noticed marijuana, two pipes that appeared to be used for smoking drugs, a mirror with white powder residue and a small bowl with white powder in the bedroom where Harris was found. Police said Michaud admitted that Harris had used cocaine around 9 p.m., and then later admitted that he had given her six hits of cocaine through the course of the night and they had both been drinking cocktails.

Harris was taken to the hospital and Michaud was arrested. According to court documents, police said Michaud told them, “I’m not a drug dealer; I just sell some to support my own habit.”

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