‘I walked over there and touched his cheek, and he was cold. He was gone.’
A 22-year-old Okawville man told police he knew 18-year-old Dakota Ellerbusch was dying from an overdose in December 2016 — and that he didn’t call for help because he was afraid of the police.
Shane R. Lindsay, of Okawville, is on trial on charges of drug-induced homicide and concealing a death in the fatal overdose of Ellerbusch, a teenager from Ashley.
On Thursday, prosecuting attorney Daniel Bronke played several hours of a police interview conducted with Lindsay on Jan. 27, just a few weeks after the teen’s death.
In the video, the defendant speaks at length with an FBI agent about the night leading up to Ellerbusch’s death.
Lindsay told the agent he drove Ellerbusch to New Baden the night before he died, Dec. 30, 2016. There, he said, Ellerbusch traded some methamphetamine for liquid methadone with a “drug contact” of Lindsay’s.
“I never drank a drop of it. I’ve never touched that in my life,” Lindsay said of the methadone. “I knew he purchased methadone from him. I did not know he was going to die.”
Lindsay told the FBI agent he smoked K2 — a banned synthetic marijuana. He also told the agent he had been doing drugs his whole life and dropped out of school after eighth grade.
He told the FBI agent he wanted to get sober but didn’t have the money or resources.
Lindsay told the agent in the interview that Ellerbusch had said he owed several thousands of dollars to methamphetamine dealers in Fayetteville. Lindsay said he then drove Ellerbusch to those dealers the night of Dec. 30, 2016.
“He was crying to me,” Lindsay said in the taped interview. “He feared for his life.”
Eventually, Lindsay told the FBI agent, they ended up at a clubhouse in rural Washington County with Emily Rensing, Lindsay’s girlfriend.
There, according to testimony, Ellerbusch continued to drink the methadone mixed with soda as the three hung out and played cards.
Rensing and Lindsay left in the morning, after they unsuccessfully attempted to wake up the teen in the unheated cabin.
Rensing took the stand Wednesday and told jurors Lindsay told her that Ellerbusch just needed to sleep off the drugs he consumed the night before. Lindsay said she checked the teen’s pupils to see if they reacted to light, and he told Rensing they did.
But in the taped interview played Thursday, Lindsay admitted he knew the teenager was dying — although at times he said he thought the teen was fine because he had seen other people sleep through similar overdoses and survive.
“I believed he was going to die, but I didn’t want to believe,” he told the FBI agent.
The two checked back on Ellerbusch later on the day of Dec. 31, but they decided to leave him on the couch where he had been. Lindsay went back and forth on whether Ellerbusch was alive the second time he checked on him in the clubhouse.
Sometime before or after their second check on Ellerbusch — Rensing’s and Lindsay’s recollections seemed to contradict each other — Lindsay told the teen’s grandfather he hadn’t seen the teen since Friday night.
John Ellerbusch found the body of his grandson in the clubhouse Jan. 1.
Lindsay, at times during the police interview, described feeling Ellerbusch’s pulse and seeing him breathe while checking on him. At other times, he agreed with the FBI agent that Ellerbusch was already dead by that time.
“He was one of my best friends. I would have called the cops if he wasn’t OK,” Lindsay told the agent in the interview at one point.
Lindsay was charged in Washington County with drug-induced homicide in addition to obstruction of justice by destroying evidence, concealment of a death and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.
The obstruction charge accuses Lindsay of giving false information to a Washington County detective “as to the true circumstances surrounding the death of Dakota Ellerbusch and his actions and involvement thereto.”
The concealment charge accuses Lindsay of “lying to and giving misdirection to John Ellerbusch as to the actual physical location of Dakota Ellerbusch,” for the purpose of “preventing or delaying the discovery of the death of Dakota Ellerbusch.”
If Lindsay is convicted, the drug-induced homicide charge carries a sentence of 15-30 years in prison.
The trial was scheduled to resume Friday.