Two people have been indicted on charges they allegedly sold heroin to a Burbank man, who later overdosed and died.
Gary L. Martin III, 33, of 9541 Ashland Road, Wooster, and Jennifer Lynn Phillips, 33, of 1131 Townsview Place, Wooster, have both entered not guilty pleas to charges of involuntary manslaughter (the most serious charge, a first-degree felony), corrupting another with drugs, trafficking in heroin, tampering with evidence and misdemeanor permitting drug abuse in Wayne County Common Pleas Court.
Phillips has a pretrial set for Nov. 24; Martin on Jan. 19. Both of their cases are in front of Judge Mark K. Wiest and they are out on recognizance bonds.
The two are accused of supplying heroin to Adam Bruce Marty, who overdosed on heroin and died on Jan. 22.
Don Hall, director of the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency, said his agents assisted in the investigation, which was initially dispatched to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. The call originated along North Bauer Road in Wooster Township. And Medway performed several interviews in attempts to determine who allegedly provided drugs to Marty.
Wayne County Prosecutor Dan Lutz noted this is a relatively new approach to handling drug cases, and hopefully will deter drug trafficking. He pointed out the grand jury in fact found probable cause that their actions led to Marty's death.
"We are hopeful that this approach in these types of cases will help deter the trafficking of heroin in our county," Lutz said, adding there is pending legislation in Columbus to hold drug traffickers "strictly liable" for any overdose deaths. "In other words, if HB 270 passes, Ohio prosecutors will not have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the trafficking of the drug was the proximate cause of death in order to obtain a conviction for involuntary manslaughter. In the meantime, pending passage of HB 270, Wayne County law enforcement and my office are doing whatever we can to try to save lives."
Hall said this avenue has had limited success in other counties, such as Cuyahoga County.
"There's a lot of legwork that goes into these case," Hall said. "We try to get any evidence we can when we have avenues to pursue it."
Reporter Steve Huszai can be reached at 330-287-1645 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is @GeneralSmithie on Twitter.