Cody Miller testified Tuesday as an expert of sorts – an expert on being a heroin addict.
Miller shot up regularly with Paul William Walden around the time of the July 16, 2012, night when Walden allegedly ran over and killed a man, seriously injured his girlfriend and killed her four dogs.
In his testimony, Miller couldn’t figuratively put the needle in Walden’s arm in the hours leading up to the collision that killed Harison Long-Randall. He did, however, help the Sacramento Superior Court jury understand the nuances of addiction and the role the prosecution thinks it played in the gruesome night of death and mayhem at Garfield Avenue and Engle Road in Carmichael.
He started with the basic terminology of the heroin cycle.
“High” – the sense of euphoria springing from the first needle, to be chased but never quite repeated to the same effect, Miller explained. “Sick” – the onset of withdrawal symptoms 100 times worse than the worst flu you’ve ever had, he said; to be in need of a fix. “Well” – the attainment of physical relief, according to the witness, achieved through shooting up heroin, the daily goal of the addict’s life once the glory of the initial high fades into distant memory.
Prosecutors have charged Walden, 32, with second-degree murder under a theory of implied malice, based on the alleged wantonness of the actions he undertook in pursuit of getting “well” the night he returned to the Sacramento area after spending four days on the road, driving home from Boone, N.C.
On his approach to Sacramento in his 1987 Nissan Maxima, Walden put in a call to Miller, a relatively recent acquaintance of his in the heroin community. Miller said when Walden called, the two had the same thing on their mind.
“We both were looking for heroin,” Miller said, under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Kari Reeve.
Dressed in a baggy gray sweatshirt and denim shorts that drooped below his knees, Miller, 29, said from the witness stand that he headed down toward Elk Grove in what apparently was a successful search for the substance to make him well.
Walden, working the phones when he returned to the Sacramento area, also connected with a source, Miller said. After making a cellphone call from the Rite Aid on Manzanita Avenue at Cypress Avenue, he drove over to Garfield Avenue, made a left and was headed south to meet up on his buy when he struck Long-Randall, 21, and his girlfriend and the dogs, authorities said.
Some witnesses estimated Walden’s speed at 75 or 80 mph or more on Garfield, a street with a 35-mph limit. Walden told his mother in a jailhouse conversation he thought he was going 65, according to the DA’s court papers.
Shortly after the fatal collision, Miller said Walden called him and told him he needed a jump start on his battery. Miller headed over and saw what he thought was a DUI checkpoint at the scene of the crash. Then he said Walden called him, told him he got his car started, and the two agreed to meet at Walden’s mother’s house in North Highlands.
When Walden drove up to his mother’s residence and got out of his car, “he didn’t look like he was feeling the best,” Miller said. The witness had told investigators back at the time of the collision that “I know he wasn’t sick, that’s for sure.” In his Tuesday testimony, the addict said that in his expert opinion, he believes that Walden was getting to the danger point of illness.
“I could see his body language,” Miller said. “It’s hard to explain. The constant movement, I guess.”
Either way, the two of them and Miller’s girlfriend all went to a shed out back of Walden’s mother’s house to get well.
“I wouldn’t say he was in a super rush to get high, but I could tell he needed something,” Miller said. “We cooked up our dope and we did our shots and after that we went to sleep.”
Miller said when he woke up, Walden was washing his car.
The night before, Miller said he noticed Walden’s windshield had a few more cracks in it. In the light of day, he saw the car was missing a side mirror. He also observed dog hair on the undercarriage, and there were multiple dents on the front, the side and the roof of the car.
“He told me a dog and a guy stepped out in front of his car,” Miller testified. Miller said Walden related the information “kind of nonchalantly.”
Miller said he helped Walden knock out some dents, “to make his car look not so bad.”
His admission to being an accessory after the fact required a grant of immunity from the DA’s office in exchange for his testimony.
If the deal tainted Miller’s credibility, defense attorney Michael Long sought to tarnish it further by questioning the effects of Miller’s drug use on his memory.
“You forget a lot of things,” Miller testified.
Walden’s ex-wife, Traci Walden, also testified for the prosecution about the effects of heroin and other drugs on the defendant.
She said that when she was married to Walden, in the years before the 2012 disaster, “He wrecked every one of my cars.”
He’d be driving, she said, “and he would nod out. One eye would go this way and one would go this way, and they would not be open all the way.”
Traci Walden, who is in Narcotics Anonymous, said that once she cleaned up, Walden’s friends and family collected $1,800 to get him into a residential drug treatment program that she said he never completed.
She testified she constantly implored her ex-husband, who has three DUIs on his record and is charged with driving on a suspended license the night of the wreck, to at least not get behind the wheel when he was using.
“Someone is going to die,” she said she told him, “either you or someone else.”