West Ada

He said his cologne triggered an alcohol ankle monitor. Here’s what a judge ruled.

Adam Paulson, who killed an Eagle pedestrian while driving drunk in 2017, testified for more than 30 minutes during a 2.5-hour hearing in Ada County Court on Monday.

But Paulson could not persuade Judge Deborah Bail that he didn’t intentionally tamper with a SCRAM alcohol-monitoring device that he’s required to wear as part of his felony probation for vehicular manslaughter. Maddie Duskey, 24, was killed in the 2017 incident.

Paulson was sentenced in mid-January to 15 years of probation and no prison time; he served 14 months in jail prior to his sentencing.

Paulson said his weight loss since leaving jail possibly affected the ankle monitor’s readings because it was so loose, and that dress socks may have even blocked the device from properly testing his perspiration for alcohol every 30 minutes. An alert is triggered when an object comes between a SCRAM bracelet and a person’s skin.

Bail determined Monday that Paulson did tamper with the device, violating his probation. She said the evidence presented gave her reason to believe he did it as “an experiment.”

But Bail also said prosecutors provided insufficient evidence that Paulson had consumed alcohol on the day of the tampering. The device registered trace amounts of alcohol on the same day, which Paulson suggested could have been cologne he received as a gift the day before.

His sentencing hearing for the probation violation is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. June 10. Bail could impose jail or prison time up to his full sentence on the vehicular manslaughter conviction.

Device sensitive to all alcohol

SCRAM bracelets can detect any and all types of alcohol, even if it’s contained in perfumes, colognes, cleaning products and bug spray, SCRAM expert Shaun Stewart testified via video conferencing in court. He works for Alcohol Monitoring Systems, the company that makes the SCRAM devices used by Ada County.

The devices cannot tell if the alcohol detected is coming from inside the body or from an environmental source, Stewart said.

Paulson said he was unaware of all of the possible environmental sources of alcohol that could trigger the alcohol monitor, such as cologne, because no one provided him with a list when he was released from jail on Jan. 16. He said it wasn’t until he was getting his ankle monitor checked for proper fit that he became aware that the device previously had sent a tampering alert to authorities.

“It sent me into a panic because I knew I hadn’t consumed alcohol,” he testified Monday.

Other witnesses called to testify were Mary Farbo, Paulson’s girlfriend, and John Kennedy, the manager of the sober living house where he spends nights. Paulson said he keeps his belongings and spends much of his time at a house he shares with Farbo in Eagle.

Kennedy said there are 12 men who live at the sober living house. He described Paulson as a good resident of the house, one who keeps his room neat and follows the rules. He said that after Paulson found out about the tampering alert, he asked Kennedy to conduct alcohol and drug tests on him. Those tests came back negative.

The history of the case

Paulson’s sentence was viewed by Duskey’s family and others as extremely lenient, and the national director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving asked the Idaho Judicial Council to review the case. There were 18 people at Paulson’s hearing Monday, including the victim’s family and supporters with MADD.

The 44-year-old was charged with felony probation violation in March, after the company that monitors the SCRAM devices notified prosecutors of possible tampering and alcohol consumption. A bench warrant was issued, and Paulson was arrested. He denied the violation at his arraignment, but Bail ordered him held without bail until his probation violation hearing Monday.

Paulson’s ankle monitor triggered alerts on Feb. 13 — the same day he was in court for a review hearing before Judge Bail. Paulson must report regularly to the judge on his progress toward meeting the requirements of his probation.

On Feb. 15, Paulson sent an email to his probation officer, letting him know that he stopped off to have his alcohol-monitoring bracelet refitted because he’d lost weight, court documents show. While there, he said in the email, he received the report about the tampering and alcohol alerts. He told his probation officer that he was getting ready for his court hearing at the time the alerts started, and that his dress socks may have blocked the ankle monitor and his cologne might be the reason alcohol was detected.

Paulson, who was on probation for a domestic violence conviction and whose blood alcohol level was nearly triple the legal limit the night of the fatal 2017 crash, is appealing his conviction. His attorneys claim that an investigation into the crash shows that no one could have avoided hitting Duskey that night, even a sober driver.