MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota judge threw out a felony charge against the brother of hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard on Thursday for supplying a painkiller that contributed to the player's overdose death earlier this year.
Aaron Boogard, 24, told police he gave his brother an oxycodone pill at the start of a night of partying that led to Boogaard's death May 13 at age 28. Aaron Boogaard was charged with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.
In dismissing the charge, Hennepin County District Judge William Howard said the facts of the case didn't support the charge. Howard wrote that Derek Boogaard had acquired the drugs and asked his brother to hold them, and that Aaron Boogaard's act of giving him the pill was merely returning his property to him.
Derek Boogaard, a former fan favourite for the Minnesota Wild, was with the New York Rangers before his death. After he died, his family acknowledged that he had become addicted to painkillers. They said Aaron Boogaard had attempted to help his brother with his addiction by controlling his access to drugs, and they criticized authorities for charging him.
Boogaard's attorney, John Lundquist, called the judge's decision a significant victory.
"We're very pleased for Aaron and his entire family," Lundquist said. "This is a tremendous relief for them and we hope this will be a step in resolving the entire matter."
Chuck Laszewski, a spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney, said prosecutors may appeal the dismissal. They have five days to decide.
The younger Boogaard still faces a misdemeanour charge of interfering with the scene of a death. A criminal complaint said he told police that he flushed pills down a toilet after he found his brother's body in the Minneapolis apartment they shared.
Boogaard has been free on bail. Lundquist said Boogaard, a Wild draftee, was headed back to training camp with their farm team, the Houston Aeros.
Derek Boogaard, known as "The Boogeyman," was one of the most feared fighters in the league. The six-foot-seven, 265-pound forward racked up 589 penalty minutes in 277 career games. He left the Wild for a four-year deal with the Rangers and scored one goal in 22 games before his season was ended by a concussion, five months before his death.