By Darrell Todd Maurina
Martin Smith told a jail officer he swallowed a packet of methamphetamine on Saturday night because he didn’t want his mother to find out on Mother’s Day that he had been arrested for drug possession.
The Clovis man died early Sunday morning from complications related to the meth ingestion, officials said.
“Martin told me that he does not use drugs and he did not want his mother to know anything about this,” Curry County Adult Detention Center Officer Amanda Johnson wrote in a report released by the jail on Thursday.
“He said ‘she would kill me,’ and he was concerned that it would ruin her Mother’s Day.”
Smith’s girlfriend, Misti Chaisson, said concern for his mother’s feelings is typical of something her boyfriend would do.
“He would always do what he could for his friends and family,” Chaisson said. “He and his mother were extremely close.”
Smith, 22, died Sunday in police custody after being transported to Plains Regional Medical Center.
Chaisson said she has spoken to Smith’s mother, Laura Bordonaro, who lives in Utah.
“His mother strongly asked me to try to find his things,” Chaisson said. “She isn’t interested in his clothes, just pictures and sentimental things. She doesn’t have many current pictures of him because he was always camera shy.”
Finding Smith’s personal property hasn’t been easy, Chaisson said. The couple had known each other four years but had recently argued, and Smith hadn’t seen Chaisson or their 20-month old son Tristian since the end of April. The first Chaisson knew about Smith’s whereabouts was when she learned of his drug overdose.
“For the last couple of weeks he was living from house to house,” Chaisson said.
Smith’s drug-overdose death was his first drug-related contact with the legal system, jail officials said.
The jail report indicated Smith, who said he was a certified nursing assistant, called for help from jail officials when his physical symptoms caused him to believe the bag containing about 7 ounces of methamphetamine broke.
“I didn’t know they made you feel like this,” Smith told jail officers, according to the report.
Chaisson said Smith didn’t have a history of drug use.
“From what I know he never did drugs. He knew a lot of people who did but he never personally did drugs to my knowledge,” Chaisson said. “He was afraid of dying because he always wanted to see his son grow up.”
According to the jail report, Smith said the methamphetamine belonged to his “brother.”
“He has no brother in town, but he became close friends with a lot of people he considered brothers,” Chaisson said. According to obituary information, Smith has a brother living in Florida but no local relatives.
Chaisson, who knew Smith as “Marty,” said she would try to raise their son to stay away from drugs.
“I want to get a better idea what happened so I can tell his son when he grows up,” Chaisson said.
“For as long as I can I will not let him know all the details of his father’s death, but I will let him know drugs did play a role in his father’s death,” Chaisson said. “It will all come down to Tristian, but I’m hoping that Marty’s spirit will help him keep away from drugs.”