Naperville Man Charged in Teen's Fatal Drug Overdose

Article excerpt

Byline: Christy Gutowski Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer

Garrett Harth's legal troubles deepened Tuesday.

A grand jury indicted the Naperville man on involuntary manslaughter charges for the drug-overdose death of 18-year-old Sara Aeschlimann.

Harth, 21, is accused of providing drugs to the Naperville Central senior May 13 after they visited a local pool hall, the Riverwalk and then returned to Harth's house to watch movies with another friend.

The trio thought they were taking the popular teen drug Ecstasy. The white pills actually turned out to be PMA - a toxic lookalike hallucinogen that hadn't been detected in the United States in decades.

Aeschlimann died May 14 - Mother's Day. She had swallowed six times the lethal limit of PMA, a coroner's inquest revealed. Afterward, the overdose deaths of two other teens in Lisle and McHenry were linked to PMA.

Harth was arrested on various drug charges two days after Aeschlimann died.

But he never faced criminal charges in connection with her overdose.

That changed Tuesday when a grand jury convened behind closed doors to consider evidence presented by prosecutors Joseph Ruggiero and Justin Fitzsimmons. They indicted Harth on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, a felony punishable by two to five years in prison.

"Her family and people in her community deserve an appropriate response from the criminal justice system," said DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett.

"If you sell or deliver drugs and it causes someone's death, you're going to be held responsible."

Birkett said the indictment is fitting. Aeschlimann did not take enough drugs to merit a more serious felony, such as drug-induced homicide. …