Man Faces Drug Charge After Wife Dies of Accidental Overdose in Laramie
A Laramie resident was arrested Wednesday on a felony drug delivery charge over two months after his wife was found dead by the couple's children at the family home.
Paul Standford Harper, 36, is charged with delivery of hydrocodone, a Schedule II controlled substance. Harper could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
Harper's wife, Kaylee Dawn Harper, was found unresponsive the morning of July 8. Court documents say Harper's death was accidental, and was determined by a forensic pathologist to be the result of respiratory depression -- a reduced urge to breathe, brought on in this case by the combined effects of drinking alcohol and taking hydrocodone.
A Laramie police detective interviewed Paul Harper on July 8 and July 10.
According to the detective's affidavit, Harper said he and his wife were drinking beer July 7, the night before Kaylee Harper died. At about 8 p.m., a friend accompanied the couple to a local bar where Paul Harper plays in a band, court documents say.
Harper allegedly told the detective he and his wife "drank all night."
Harper indicated, according to the affidavit, that his wife took a 5-mg hydrocodone tablet that he had given her from his own prescription. Harper allegedly said the empty pill bottle was still inside his vehicle, which police later confirmed.
Harper reportedly told the detective that around 2:30 a.m. July 8, Kaylee left the bar to go pick up their children. She got home around 3:30 or 4 a.m.
Harper knew his wife was drunk but still allowed her to drive with their children, according to the affidavit.
Court documents say Harper told the detective that Kaylee's body was "like beginning to shut down" when she arrived home. He saw her shaking, and allegedly gave her two pills of Gabapentin around 5 a.m.
According to the affidavit, Harper told his wife the day before that he left two pills of hydrocodone for her on top of the refrigerator in their home. He reportedly assumed she took those pills as well as the Gabapentin he gave her the morning of July 8.
Court documents say Harper felt he should not have left his wife after noticing that she "wasn't too functional." He told the detective that when he left the house to go to work, his wife was "shaking real bad" and was "really drunk," according to the affidavit.
During his break at work, Harper called his wife to check on her. Court documents say he continued to call until his daughter answered. Harper then asked to speak to his son, who told him he tried to wake his mother, but she would not wake up.
Harper returned home to find his wife unresponsive, her face buried in a pillow, according to the affidavit. Someone was reportedly performing CPR on Harper when police arrived after receiving a rescue call around 11:30 a.m.
After his wife was pronounced dead Paul Harper allegedly told the detective Kaylee had been awake for several days. Harper also said he gave her the Gabapentin that was prescribed to him, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit says Harper also told the detective that his wife took Venlafaxine for severe anxiety as well as hydrocodone because she had back surgery.
Court documents reference the Wyoming State Board of Pharmacy Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which reportedly show that Kaylee Harper had been given four separate prescriptions for hydrocodone since Feb. 16. The last prescription, written June 3, was only for three days.
Paul Harper, meanwhile, was given eight separate hydrocodone prescriptions, also beginning Feb. 16. His last prescription, written June 27, gave him 60 pills supposed to last for 15 days.
The affidavit says Harper admitted that when he had his own hydrocodone prescription filled, he would give his wife 10 of the 60 hydrocodone pills prescribed to him.
Harper told the detective that his wife did not get her own prescriptions after Laramie doctors stopped giving her hydrocodone because she wasn't able to transfer her medical records from California.
The affidavit says police looked through Harper's car and home, and found evidence consistent with his story.
Harper appeared Friday morning in Albany County Circuit Court. Judge Robert Castor set his bond at $50,000 cash and scheduled a preliminary hearing for 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Castor said the bond could only be signed by an Albany County resident approved by the court, after Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent requested $200,000 cash bond due to concerns over Harper's "extensive" criminal history and concerns that he might not return for court proceedings if released.
Trent declined to comment on the charges Friday.