West Virginia residents may not realize that it is possible to be charged with murder via drug trafficking. A Greenbrier County man was arrested on homicide charges for this reason earlier this month.
Police say the defendant and another man brought the second man’s brother to the hospital the morning of Jan. 5, MetroNews reports. The third man had suffered a heroin overdose and was still alive when he arrived at the hospital, but died shortly afterward.
The defendant left the hospital, but sheriff’s deputies tracked him to his home. Under questioning, the defendant allegedly admitting providing heroin to the deceased man, and doing the drug with the man and the man’s brother before the overdose. He said he was promised $15 and a carton of cigarettes in payment, deputies claimed.
He was arrested on suspicion of murder. This man seem strange to readers, but this is possible under a statute in West Virginia’s criminal code. The law states that if a person dies while another person is committing a felony, the second person can be charged in the death.
The deceased man’s brother was also arrested, but on a charge of obstruction of justice.
This case demonstrates how the law allows authorities to escalate charges, in many cases, from relatively minor crimes to the most serious crimes on the books. It is highly unlikely the defendant in this case intended or expected the man to die, but now he will face murder charges for selling drugs. Anyone who ever finds themselves in this situation will need the assistance of a defense attorney as soon as possible.