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Posted on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Motion filed to release medical records of hockey coach who died from heroin overdose

By Kyle Feldscher

A court hearing Tuesday in the case against an Ann Arbor man accused of providing the heroin that killed a high school hockey coach in January could result in the deceased man's medical records being released to attorneys.


Washtenaw County's deadly heroin problem continues to play out in the court system.

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

Brendan Lathrop is facing allegations that he provided a small packet of heroin to Father Gabriel Richard High School hockey coach Nick Belanger, causing his death.

The case is one of at least two involving heroin overdose deaths to make their way through the courts this year. Raymond Bowman, was charged with providing the drugs that killed 23-year-old Stephanie Gedert in Pittsfield Township last year before accepting a plea deal dismissing that charge.

Heroin has become the drug of choice for many in Washtenaw County because it's cheap, available and highly addictive.

Lathrop’s attorney has filed a motion to release documents that he says could provide evidence that his client did not cause Belanger’s death when Lathrop allegedly provided him heroin.

The lawyer, Daniel Geherin, filed a request for Belanger's medical, treatment, prescription and hospitalization records.

“The treatment, counseling and/or testing records may show Mr. Belanger previously used/abused heroin,” the motion stated, “thus contributing to or directly causing his death.”

Belanger, 26, was found dead in his car outside of Lathrop’s home in the Park Place Apartments on Jan. 22, according to police. Lathrop fled the area and was not arraigned on charges until April 13, after he was found and toxicology reports from the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office were ready.

Belanger was a 2004 graduate of Saline High School, according to an obituary. He helped coach Gabriel Richard’s hockey team to the school’s first ever Catholic League Championship, the obituary stated.


Nick Belanger

Courtesy of MLive

Lathrop is charged with delivery of a controlled substance causing death and delivery of a controlled substance less than 50 grams. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Geherin wrote, in a motion filed in the Washtenaw County Trial Court, that Washtenaw County pathologist Dr. Bader Cassin testified Belanger had three times the normal amount of morphine and a “medium to high” amount of 6-monoacetylemorphine — an active metabolite of heroin — in his system when he died.

“Dr. Cassin added that, ‘the amount of one or both of these substances is more than occasional use, it is abuse,’” the motion stated.

According to the motion, Lathrop told investigators he only gave Belanger a small amount of heroin on the night of his death. The motion states Cassin testified there was a higher volume of drugs in Belanger’s urine and blood than a small packet of heroin would normally cause.

Geherin is asking Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Donald Shelton to order the release of “all medical records and drugs/toxicological testing, if available, from any … medical or psychological treatment of Nicholas Belanger from October 2010 to January 2012,”.

The motion stated medical records could show Belanger used real and synthetic marijuana and abused Citalopram and other anti-depressants.

Shelton will rule on the motion at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to court records. Lathrop is scheduled to face a final pretrial hearing at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 28, records show. A trial date is set for Sept. 17.

He is lodged at the Washtenaw County Jail without bond.

Van Belanger, Nick Belanger’s father, did not return a phone call or email seeking comment.

Meanwhile, Bowman pleaded guilty in May to a charge of delivery of heroin less than 50 grams and was sentenced to between two years, five months and 20 years in prison, records show. The charge of providing a controlled substance causing death was dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea to the drug charge.


Raymond Bowman

Courtesy of the state of Michigan

Bowman was accused of giving heroin to Gedert, who was found dead on Aug. 25, 2011, in a room at the Days Inn in Pittsfield Township, 2380 Carpenter Road. Prosecutors said Gedert was attempting to improve her life but had a setback and bought drugs from Bowman.

Bowman also will serve between a year and seven months and 15 years in prison for a second-degree home invasion charge, according to court records.

The 22-year-old is now being held in the Kinross Correctional Facility. His earliest release date is Sept. 3, 2014, but he could be in prison until April 3, 2032, according to state records.

Read more coverage of heroin in Washtenaw County:

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

@ Cash....Don't feel alone, I am still very confused myself.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

*my heart goes out to those addicted and fighting addiction, as well as those close to them*


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

Seriously, just the when the heroin dealer gives away that first try for free....I always decline whatever free products (lemonade, frappes, etc.) that McDonald's tries to push on me. I have an addictive personality and I know it. It doesn't take much for me to get hooked. So, I can't even imagine how deep the claws of a drug addiction take hold. This heroin problem is affecting many lives and families here. We are all vulnerable. And more so than to whatever McDonald's dishes out My heart goes out to the fathers, the mothers, the families and friends of those addicted if fighting addiction.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

I think we should arrest every employee of McDonalds for the numerous myocardial infarctions their food has caused and ended up killing people.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Did anyone read the article here a few weeks back concerning heroin and how it it silently creeping in to this area? I lost a sibling in 2009 to a heroin overdose in another state where there is a herion problem so huge law enforcement does not have the resources to keep up with it. All they have is the addicts they catch, turning in the dealers for reduced sentences. People are dying at an unpredicted level and the rate of petty crime has skyrocketed. This is in an area very similar to Ann Arbor and its surrounding neighborhoods. When the authorities wrote my relative off as another statistic, myself and my Mother did some due diligence and were able to find out an interesting pattern the dealer was using in supplying the drugs, not to just my sibling but to his "customers". He knew what day of the week his customers were paid, collected their welfare money, and who he could use to steal anything he wanted. This guy was ruthless. I do hold my sibling personally responsible for his death, I hold him fully responsible for the grief and anguish he placed on myself, my other siblings and most of all my Mother. However selling heroin is illegal and not a legitimate business. This dealer had an attitude that he was supplying people with what they wanted, without thinking about the fact that the baggie he was handing over may be the fatal dose. His interest was only the profit he could make. He was very cunning and calculated, and knew what days to be around and what days to not answer the call for more because he did not front any of hid merchandise until next week. He was well aware that eventually his customers would not be able to keep a tab and pay it as their addiction worsened. Should he be held responsible is one of his customers died? When it happens to someone you know I promise your answer will be yes.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

Ultimately the abuser of the drug is responsible for their own death. And, of course, those who break the law by selling drugs are guilty of that crime, but are also killing people as part of their illegal business, which should carry additional penalties.

Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

If a bartender serves an obviously intoxicated patron and that person drives and kills someone, the bartender is held liable. And why should the friendly neighborhood heroin dealer be different? Heroin is big business. For-profit business. It is no joke that pushers push it on kids. The first snort is free.

Ron Granger

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

"'a better analogy would be if a pharmacy gives you a prescription drug that your doctor prescribed and it endsup killing you" Oh please. Are you really trying to compare a heroin dealer to a licensed pharmicist who fills a script from a licensed MD for a medical condition, with a drug that is studied and approved for a specific use, and manufactured to fairly rigorous tolerances? Also, you completely ignored the fact that bartenders are liable when they serve an intoxicated patron.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

Nope, not the same thing. Abetter analogy would be if a pharmacy gives you a prescription drug that your doctor prescribed and it endsup killing you (though you have taken it many times before) should the pharmacy be held liable? Should a grocery store that sells beer to a person who ends up drinking that beer and dying because of it be held responsible? The kid used heroin. Sorry he did not make it, but too bad, so sad. Unless the dealer forced him to use, it is 100% the users fault. This comes down to a philosophy of which side works economically as well. Supply siders believe you control the supply and that helps the economy and fizes the drug problem. The REAL way to fix the drug issue is the demand side. If there is low demand, there is no reason for people to be in the heroin business. The current system keeps prices high and lots of people making money off the trade. I would prefer legalization and stopping people from using on the demand end. It worked VERY effectively for cigarettes. Look at the drop in cigarette usage over the last 50 years. It was not from lowering supply, it has been a lower demand.

Basic Bob

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

Dumbest law ever. It's hard to believe a jury would find the dealer responsible based on the medical examiner's report. The facts don't even encourage a decent plea deal from a good defense lawyer.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

So if I choose to buy illegal drugs from someone, whether I'm a recreational user or an addict, and I die, my death is the criminal fault of the seller? That is confusing to me. I'm not being difficult, I just really don't understand why it wouldn't be death by my own hand even though not intentional. It's all very sad and frightening too. But this case confuses me.

Michigan Reader

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

SUPPLYING is the key word.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Need a photo of Mr Lathrop.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

My Girlfriend's Son is a 12th grader at Saline high and says heroin is huge problem in the schools. In fact one of his friends was busted for heroin and he didn't even know his friend used. I hope they get a handle on this real soon, heroin destroys lives very fast.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 1 p.m.

I agree, we want Liberty, and then the State steps in to go after others once we abuse it. The defendant in this case should have carte blanche access to the medical records for his defense, anything less would amount to a kangaroo court indeed.

Robert Granville

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

Our drug laws are screwed up. At risk of sounding like an out of touch good ole boy... what happened to personal responsibility?

Michigan Reader

Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

The idea of personal responsibility is still intact--that's why Brendan Lathrop's been charged with supplying drugs causing a death.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

This headline is as odd to me now as it was the first time I read it; overdoses are tragic but responsibility - both on the part of Mr. Belanger, as well as with the public to do anything about Mr. Belanger's problem - ended with the overdose. Why we're pursuing this unfortunate event further is beyond me.


Tue, Jul 24, 2012 : 10:35 a.m.

If the focus of this story is Brendan Lathrop, it's confusing to have Raymond Brown's mugshot in the preview of this article on the home page.