Is selling heroin the same thing as murder?

When someone chooses to take a drug, should anyone other than that individual be held responsible if he or she is caught? That is a question that not many of us ask ourselves, but it is one that prosecutors certainly asked the court in a recent drug case. In any other situation, a 30-year-old Minneapolis man accused of selling heroin would be facing drug charges, but because the heroin was used in a fatal overdose, he was recently convicted of third-degree murder.

The 30-year-old appears to have been selling heroin to a few individuals from Little Falls for a while, but it is unknown if he knew that they were giving the heroin to anyone else. The buyers gave some to a 19-year-old woman in February 2012 and she eventually overdosed. Though the heroin dealer never gave the young woman the drugs, he was the one who was convicted of her murder.

The man who purchased the drugs was charged with aiding and abetting a third-degree murder.

The man in whose home the young woman died agreed to testify against the dealer for a lower sentence. Instead of spending four years in prison on a felony drug charge, he will only be in jail for one year. His girlfriend was also charged with felony drug charges and operating a disorderly house. For that, she will likely be sentenced to time served.

This is the first time that a drug dealer has been convicted of murder for someone who overdosed on his or her drugs in this county. What do you think, should he have been convicted of murder or simply drug charges?

Source: Star Tribune, “Mpls. heroin dealer guilty of murder in teen’s overdose,” Paul Walsh, Oct. 31, 2013

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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