Lawmaker's daughter formally charged in woman's OD death

Cassie Nygren (Photo source: Brown County Jail)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- The daughter of a state lawmaker has been formally charged in connection with the drug overdose death of a woman and her unborn child.

Prosecutors on Thursday filed six felony and four misdemeanor charges against Cassie Nygren, 28. She is accused in the June death of 31-year-old Jennifer Skeen, who was pregnant at the time. Skeen overdosed on fentanyl, investigators have said.

Nygren's boyfriend, Shawn Gray, was also arrested in the case. He is due in court on Friday.

Cassie Nygren appeared by video conference in Brown County Court Thursday. She is now facing ten counts, including 1st degree reckless homicide and reckless homicide of an unborn child. She could spend more than 100 years in prison if convicted.

Authorities say Nygren provided the drugs which caused Skeen's death in early June.

In the complaint Nygren is quoted, saying, "Ever since Jen has died it has been bothering me that I supplied a pregnant woman with heroin..."

According to autopsy results, Skeen was about 30 weeks pregnant and had more than three times a lethal dose of fentanyl in her system.

Court documents say Nygren and Gray were arrested Oct. 10, a day after selling drugs to a confidential informant working with police. On that day, officers say the couple led police on a car chase and both were eventually arrested separately after they left the car. Nygren's toddler son was reportedly in the car at the time, so Nygren is also facing a child neglect charge, along with several drug charges.

In the complaint, Nygren talks about her drug use, saying she was recently using heroin and methamphetamine almost daily. She says she has been an addict since she was 16-years-old.

Nygren also discusses her father, State Rep. John Nygren, reportedly saying, "I have also lied to my father that has confronted me about my drug use and finding needles. I did that so that he did not have to worry as I put him through enough."

According to the court documents, Cassie Nygren told police even though she helped get Skeen drugs, she does not think it was her fault Skeen died. Nygren is quoted as saying, "I don't think that I killed her and I don't think that Jen would think that. Jen and I were equivalent in our struggles. I think that that unfortunately played a part in Jen's death."

Nygren refers to herself as "middling," meaning someone who buys drugs from a dealer, then sells some of those drugs to other users in order to feed her addiction.

Rep. Nygren has used his daughter's battle with heroin addiction as inspiration for a range of legislation aimed at combating the heroin epidemic.

Nygren is due back in court Nov. 8 for a preliminary hearing.

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