Sentence handed down in alcohol-related death of Ashland teenager

Sentence handed down in alcohol-related death of Ashland teenager

The man who supplied whiskey to a teen found dead in Ashland Creek on June 7 was sentenced to 10 months in jail and a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court to a single count of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Richard "Tricky" Nolan Currier, 33, a transient with a history of buying booze for underage kids, bought a half-gallon of whiskey for 16-year-old Samuel Hayes, said Jackson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Beth Heckert.

"This case is a very sad situation," Heckert said, adding Currier has prior furnishing charges from 2008 and 2009.

After attending the school's graduation ceremony on June 3, Hayes paid Currier to purchase alcohol. Hayes was found dead in the creek near downtown a few days later. Forensic testing revealed Hayes had a blood-alcohol content of .27, Heckert said.

Heckert had asked Judge Timothy Gerking for a sentence of one year in prison with no early release, saying Hayes' father had asked for the maximum allowable penalty for the misdemeanor charge.

Currier is filled with remorse over the death of the Ashland High School sophomore, said Don Scales, Currier's public defender. He asked the judge for a six-month sentence and supervised probation for his client.

"He is deeply remorseful," Scales said. "He lives with this every day."

Scales urged the court to consider that Currier did not force or encourage Hayes to drink. He simply responded to a request from Hayes, Scales said.

"He didn't throw a party and say, 'Come over to my place and drink.' (Currier) himself battles with his own severe alcoholism," said Scales, adding his client has lived under bridges and "lives a typical lifestyle of a transient."

Scales said Hayes' death highlights the problem of teens drinking and adults supplying alcohol, adding that police are taking the issue seriously.

"No parent should ever have to bury a child," Scales said.

Heckert said Currier freely admitted to police that he was the one who purchased the alcohol for Hayes. The boy was known to him, and Currier said he did not want to see the boy pay money to an adult, only to have that money stolen without receiving the alcohol, she said.

Currier is seen buying a half-gallon of whiskey in an Ashland Liquor Store surveillance video from June 3. Currier admitted to police he gave the whiskey to Hayes, Scales said.

Currier has two prior convictions in Ashland Municipal Court for furnishing alcohol to a minor, including one in a 2009 case in which a 19-year-old was taken to the county's sobering center and ultimately landed in the hospital, police said.

At the time of Hayes' death, Currier had two additional pending charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor from other incidents, police said.

Gerking said Currier knew Hayes was underage and that supplying alcohol to minors could result in irresponsible conduct or worse.

"Obviously this is a tragedy of the highest magnitude," Gerking said. "This is one of the reasons why we have statutes that regulate the age of alcohol consumption."

Gerking urged Currier to use his time in prison to resolve his own issues with alcohol.

"Devote the rest of your life to doing good," the judge said, adding it would be a fitting tribute to the tragic death of a young boy.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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