FARMINGTON — A sentencing hearing for four people accused of contributing in some way to the death of Marilyn Rider, 52, of Farmington in November 2012, lasted all day Monday and will continue Tuesday morning.

Eric Barnes, 28, of Skowhegan; Seth Gordon, 23, of Wilton; his father, Roy Gordon, 43, of Wilton, who was Rider’s boyfriend; all pleaded guilty earlier this year to a felony charge of unlawful furnishing of a scheduled drug — morphine. Barnes also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying physical evidence. Terry Oliver, 54, of Wilton, accused of selling her morphine pills to a couple of co-defendants, pleaded guilty to a higher felony level of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs in May.

All four await sentencing.

A fifth co-defendant, Scott Kidder, 32, of Wilton, pleaded guilty in March to furnishing morphine. He received a three-year suspended sentence and two years of probation.

Maine Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Mark Flomenbaum testified Monday that Rider’s death was caused by multiple chronic respiratory diseases. Acute morphine exposure was a contributing factor, he said.

He told the court that 96 nanograms of morphine per milliliter of blood were found in Rider’s blood the day she died. He also said that norbuprenorphine, a drug similar to Suboxone, was also found in her system. Neither had been prescribed to her.


The cause of death was determined by her health history and the toxicology screening. An autopsy was not performed, Flomenbaum said, due to her significant health record and having no external indications of trauma.

He was new on the job in January and issued a finding in late January that her death was due to natural causes, he said. He issued a supplemental certificate of death in February to add acute morphine exposure as a contributing factor after someone asked him to take a closer look, he said.

The morphine pills were liquefied and injected, Assistant District Attorney James Andrews said during the hearing.

The 96 nanongrams per milometer of blood could be considered potentially lethal and could kill somebody, he said. It also could be considered a therapeutic dose if a person had built up a tolerance to morphine, he said. The morphine in Rider’s case contributed to respiratory depression, he said.

Defense attorneys argued that the medical examiner’s office should have ordered an autopsy to be done and should not have relied on her medical history and toxicology tests. They also argued that Rider was a longtime drug user and could have built up a tolerance to morphine and died of other causes. They also said that postmortem redistribution of the drug was not considered.

Her major condition was respiratory, Flomenbaum told Seth Gordon’s defense attorney Thomas Carey under cross examination.


She was 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed about 90 pounds, Flomenbaum said.

“She was very sick,” he said.

There was nothing externally that would indicate trauma, he said. Her death was caused by either something natural or something toxicological.

According to a report by local medical examiner Dr. Thomas Marshall, Flomenbaum said that there were 10 to 15 needle points in her right arm and five to six in her left arm. There were no needle marks in her lower extremities, he said.

“She died a respiratory death,” he said. The morphine was significant enough that it contributed to respiratory depression, he said.

An expert witness for the defense, Dr. Jonathan Daniel III, testified by phone that if an autopsy is not done, one cannot determine the exact cause of death. There were other factors in Rider’s history  that could have played a part, including a stroke in 2009 and an infection in June 2012, he said.


“We don’t have enough information about what was going on in her body,” Daniel said.

Justice Michaela Murphy said according to health records, the 2009 stroke was caused by excessive opiates and alcohol.

Murphy said the court will have to decide by preponderance of the evidence if the defendants’ conduct contributed in some way to Rider’s death.

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