A judge will decide in October whether, or how long, a former Waukesha resident should be imprisoned for providing his friend and colleague with the heroin that ultimately killed her earlier this year.
Derek Engberg, 25, pleaded no contest to second-degree reckless homicide on Aug. 25 in Waukesha County Circuit Court, online court records show. Judge Lloyd Carter found him guilty of the offense and will sentence Engberg on Oct. 28.
Engberg was initially accused of first-degree reckless homicide in May, more than five months after he woke up to find his friend, 49-year-old Julie Bernal, with foam coming out of her mouth after a shared night of heavy drug use. The reduced charge is part of a plea agreement. However, Engberg could still face substantial penalties for the crime – up to 25 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
His address is listed in court records as the Waukesha County Jail.
According to a criminal complaint, Engberg and Bernal drove together to Milwaukee to buy heroin on Dec. 30, 2015. They injected themselves with the drug in a McDonald's bathroom there before returning to Engberg's Waukesha apartment on Bluemound Road, where they snorted more of the drug.
Engberg told police in the complaint that Bernal threw up outside his apartment after using the heroin, then laid down. Engberg fell asleep shortly thereafter and reportedly told police there was still a "pile" of heroin left on a table when he dozed off.
When he woke up, according to the complaint, the pile was gone and Bernal wasn't breathing. Engberg called 911 and tried to revive her before emergency personnel arrived, but couldn't. Bernal was later pronounced dead of an opiate intoxication on Jan. 1, 2016.
Bernal had four children and worked as a night-shift manager at a local Walgreens, 221 E. Sunset Drive, which is where she met Engberg. According to the complaint, she had been paying for Engberg to stay at a hotel near Crites Field.