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No charges in strangulation death of Colorado man on bath salts

No charges will be filed in the death of a 19-year-old Colorado man who was physically restrained by a friend at a party after he exploded in a violent rage while high on bath salts, a prosecutor said.

Daniel Richards died April 10 from what the coroner determined was strangulation.

Grand Junction police said Richards became violent at the party, punching one man and threatening others with a large knife. A friend twice tried to restrain Richards and immobilize him with an arm around his neck, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said.


Richards appeared to lose consciousness after being subdued the second time, Hautzinger said. Friends took him to a hospital, where he died.

"It was not a criminal act. I will not file criminal charges," Hautzinger announced Tuesday, the Denver Post reported

Investigators said Richards had purchased several hundred dollars’ worth of bath salts before the party. The drug was found in his system, along with alcohol and traces of marijuana, according to the coroner.

As to why a charge of manslaughter was ruled out, Hautzinger was quoted as saying by KREX-TV:, "If I had a situation where someone was putting a choke hold on someone else who wasn't being violent or tweaked out on drugs ... or out of his gourd, as it were, then yes, we'd certainly be looking at manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide."

Hautzinger said Richards' mother is not happy with the decision. He and law enforcement authorities in Grand Junction are using the Richard's tragedy to warn others about the dangers of using the synthetic white powder.

Richards' death happened two months before the Colorado Legislature passed a law banning possession and sale of "bath salts" products.

"This was absolutely a tragedy. This was a death that did not need to happen," Hautzinger said, according to the Post. "Hopefully, some people will understand just how terrible these substances are."

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