Mahwah man charged in fatal Rockland heroin overdose wants statements to detective excluded

CliffviewPilot.com Exclusive, republished with permission 

Story and photos by Mary K. Miraglia 

timthumbThe lawyer for one of the first people charged in Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinell’s heroin enforcement initiative tried to convince a judge today to exclude statements made to investigators who accused him of putting what turned out to be a fatal dose of heroin into the hands of a 20-year-old Rockland County man.

Uldis Mende, 21, is charged with getting the heroin in Paterson that caused the death of Harris Apfelbaum of Suffern last Oct. 2.

Mende (left), a Latvian national who lives in Mahwah, was indicted by a Bergen County grand jury in March after being arrested as part of a large-scale, multi-jurisdictional operation intended to reduce the number of skyrocketing heroin overdose deaths in North Jersey.

Public defender Jacklyn Medina argued today that Mende’s statements to investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office the night of his Oct. 27 arrest should be excluded from evidence that jurors hear because he twice told Detective James Costello: “I think I want a lawyer because I think you’re gonna screw me.”

At that point, Costello had an obligation to stop questioning him, Medina (above, right) told Superior Court Judge Donald R. Venezia. Costello was the only witness today in Hackensack, as two videos of his interviews with Mende were played for the judge.

Mende could be heard telling Costello: “I want to get this over, and I want to speak to you about the events.” He also is heard expressing a familiarity with the criminal justice system, relating experiences in which he claimed that police “screwed” him.

Read full story: ROCKLAND HEROIN OVERDOSE