A Utah jury has found a Taylorsville man guilty of manslaughter, concluding that he killed his girlfriend by putting methamphetamine in her drink over five years ago. (Yukai Peng, Deseret News)
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WEST JORDAN — A jury found a Taylorsville man guilty of manslaughter on Friday after a four-day trial, deciding that he killed his girlfriend by putting methamphetamine in her drink over five years ago.
Joshua Ryan Bridgewaters, 40, who has been held in the Salt Lake County Jail for almost five years, was charged in December 2017 with murder, a first-degree felony; obstructing justice, a second-degree felony; and tampering with a witness, a third-degree felony.
The jury was given the option to convict Bridgewaters of a reduced charge of manslaughter instead of murder, meaning he recklessly caused his girlfriend’s death but did not show indifference to human life or knowingly create a great risk of death. The jurors found Bridgewaters guilty of manslaughter and tampering with a witness, but not guilty of obstructing justice.
Stacey Buchanan, 33, died on May 29, 2016. Bridgewaters told police the two were drinking wine when Buchanan started to feel sick. According to police, Bridgewaters sought help from a neighbor who is a paramedic, but the neighbor later told investigators that by the time he saw Buchanan she was not breathing and her lungs were full of vomit and fluid. Police said Bridgewaters had not called 911, despite his girlfriend’s condition.
Police affidavits said that earlier that day, Buchanan called her mother “and told her someone had poisoned her drink.” When the mother called back a short time later, she said she could hear Buchanan tell Bridgewaters to “stop it” and “stop grabbing my phone” before Bridgewaters took the phone and told Buchanan’s mother that everything was fine, according to the court documents.
Bridgewaters contacted a friend who was with them earlier that day and asked what he had told police so their stories would match, the charges state. This made the friend suspicious and prompted him to confront Bridgewaters about what had happened.
The jury trial was first scheduled for October 2018 but was delayed multiple times as different attorneys represented Bridgewaters.
Bridgewaters is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 29.