In a Chapters outlet, Aaron James snapped a photo of a self-help book and texted it to his friend.
“You doing OK?” he asked.
Jordan Yarmey’s reply shocked him.
“Nope,” the text read. “I think I moved a dead body and I’ll be getting charged. I think someone OD’d [overdosed] in my living room.”
James recounted the story Wednesday in Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench, where Yarmey is on trial for manslaughter and trafficking fentanyl. Yarmey is accused of providing the drug to Szymon Kalich, who died from an overdose in January 2016.
James testified about another text message sent by Yarmey.
Yarmey told James he was with police, waiting for the medical examiner to arrive at his south-Edmonton apartment.
“So he’ll [the medical examiner] see that I didn’t stab the guy or anything,” Yarmey texted his friend. “That’s why they’re going to call it accidental overdose and I just walk away.”
James asked who the dead man was.
“A custy,” Yarmey texted.
On the witness stand, James told court he thought that meant Kalich was a customer who’d bought drugs from Yarmey.
Under cross-examination, James said he related to Yarmey because they both have suffered from anxiety and depression.
“I truly believe he’s a good person,” James said. “Perhaps he didn’t have the same support I had, and that’s why he struggled more than I did.”
‘It looked like he was just passed out’
Nick Reeves testified he has known Yarmey since they were in second grade. The journeyman electrician moved in with Yarmey in the summer of 2015.
Reeves, 28, admitted he was addicted to fentanyl at the time and testified he had done the drug “more than 50 times,” mostly with Yarmey, by January 2016.
“You understood it was a dangerous drug?” defence lawyer Tim Dunlap asked.
“Yes,” Reeves answered. “It’s an addiction. Personally, for me, I hated my life so I liked doing drugs.
“Whenever I did drugs, it would be shove as much into your face as possible and whatever happens, happens.”
Reeves said he briefly met Kalich the first night the man showed up at their apartment. Reeves spent most of the time in his bedroom. He thought he was suffering the effects of the flu after using fentanyl, cocaine and marijuana the day before.
The two men shook hands. Reeves said Kalich seemed polite and friendly, but they had no further interaction.
“I was mostly out of it,” Reeves said. “Still sick. Still strung out.”
The next day, Reeves said, he saw Kalich on the living room couch with his head slumped to the side.
“It looked like he was just passed out,” Reeves testified.
It was on the third day that Kalich’s dead body was moved to the hallway of the apartment building.
Afterwards, Reeves said he asked Yarmey few questions about the man who had died in their apartment.
“Mostly because I didn’t care,” Reeves said.
Reeves said he moved out in January 2016 and has had little contact with Yarmey since.
“I don’t want to speak to him,” Reeves testified.
The case marks the first time Edmonton police have laid a manslaughter charge in relation to a fentanyl overdose death, and the first time such a case has gone to trial in Alberta.
The trial is expected to last eight days.