COEUR d’ALENE — A man accused of killing his girlfriend by giving her the drugs she used to overdose chose to not enter a plea Friday to charges of second-degree murder and drug delivery.
Ryan Alan Forbes, 29, who was in jail for probation violations when he was indicted in December by a grand jury on the murder charge, was represented in First District Court by his attorney, Kootenai County Public Defender Anne Taylor.
At Friday’s arraignment, Forbes told District Judge Rich Christensen that he was a college graduate, and that he understood the court proceedings, but he chose to remain silent when asked for a plea.
Christensen entered not guilty pleas to both charges on Forbes’ behalf.
Forbes was a registered nurse at Benewah Community Hospital in St. Maries in May 2014 when his girlfriend, Cathryn Mason, 19, was found dead in his bedroom in the Post Falls home where he lived with his parents.
There was evidence Mason and Forbes used opiates together, according to court records, and that Mason had overdosed on 30 milligrams of Forbes’ methadone two weeks earlier, defense attorney Jay Logsdon told the court at an earlier hearing.
Forbes was terminated from the hospital the year Mason died, and was arrested on drug charges after her death. He ultimately served in a prison drug rehabilitation program and was released on probation.
He was later convicted of DUI and having drug paraphernalia, resulting in subsequent probation violations.
Mason had been a student at North Idaho College, loved the outdoors, ran marathons and was a “go-getter,” according to her mother, Cindy Schaffner.
Schaffner, who also lives in Post Falls, heard the sirens that spring evening in 2014 as EMTs rushed to Forbes’ home on the 2200 block of North Beech Street, but she didn’t know the medics were coming for her daughter, who died later of a heroin overdose.
“She was a very driven and focused person,” Schaffner told the Coeur d’Alene Press after the incident. “She loved to go on hikes and was full of life. She was celebrating getting good grades for the semester.”
Mason graduated from Post Fall High with the class of 2012 and wasn’t known to use drugs.
“Anyone that knew her, knew she wasn’t a drug user,” Schaffner said in an earlier hearing.
Her daughter and Forbes had met online and had only been dating for a short while, Schaffner said.
“She saw him a handful of times, and the next thing I know, she’s gone,” Schaffner said at the hearing.
The first time Schaffner met Forbes, her daughter was in a coma.
“I end up meeting him at the hospital when my daughter was on life support, dying,” Schaffner told the court in a July 22, 2015, sentencing hearing.
Schaffner, who had been called as a witness, told the court that Forbes had not been forthcoming when they spoke after her daughter’s death.
“I just want to know what happened to my daughter,” she said. “The real truth, because everything is just so inconsistent.”
Calling her client’s charges defensible, Taylor at Friday’s hearing asked the court to reduce her client’s bond from $100,000 to $74,000, which would allow Forbes to be an inmate worker in the Kootenai County Jail.
Objecting to the bond reduction, deputy prosecutor Casey Simmons rolled out Forbes’ lengthy criminal history from minor in possession charges beginning in 2002, to drug possession and a St. Maries burglary charge in 2015, a Washington drug conviction a year later, his termination from drug court and rehabilitation programs, as well as a history of absconding from probation.
Christensen sliced the bond to the $74,000 sought by Taylor.
Bond isn’t meant to be punitive, the judge said, and allowing Forbes to be an inmate worker would be good for the defendant.
“I would rather have people do something than just sit around,” he said.
Forbes’ next hearing is a March 6 scheduling conference. A May 21 jury trial has also been set.