Dunwoody police charged a man with felony murder after he allegedly sold heroin that led to the overdose death of a 22-year-old man.
Antoin Thornton, 28, was arrested last Thursday, about two months after he sold heroin to a man at the Jefferson at Perimeter apartments, Dunwoody Police Department Chief Billy Grogan said at a news conference.
The victim, who was not identified, overdosed on the heroin, which was laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, Grogan said.
After his March 18 death, investigators tracked the source of the drugs, Grogan said, eventually charging Thornton with felony murder, drug trafficking and violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.
“We hope this arrest sends a clear message to drug dealers that if you sell drugs in our community and those drugs lead to someone's death you will be held accountable,” Grogan said.
But that may prove difficult moving forward.
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Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Lance Cross admitted that Thornton’s prosecution could be tough, since “you have to prove that the heroin that was sold by a specific dealer caused the death of the victim.”
He said this case was the first of its kind in DeKalb County, but that he is confident in the felony murder charge, since he “can't think of anything more inherently dangerous than dealing heroin,” said Cross, who works in the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.
A woman, Daja Monee Shaw, was also arrested following a search warrant conducted in connection with the case. She was charged with tampering with evidence, drug trafficking and possession of marijuana, according to jail records.
While the victim’s family asked for privacy in not identifying him, Grogan said the 22-year-old had gone to rehab, and “was struggling to get clean, and unfortunately he ended up using heroin and it killed him.” After getting calls that he was non-responsive, officers performed CPR and used the overdose reversal drug Narcan on him, but they were unsuccessful.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr also spoke at the news conference, saying that 8,000 Georgians have died from drug overdoses in the past eight years.
“This is an issue that is not Dunwoody or DeKalb specific, or Georgia specific. It’s a nationwide epidemic,” he said.
In Dunwoody alone, officers have responded to 50 opioid-related overdoses in the past two years, spokesman Sgt. Robert Parsons said. Sixteen of those resulted in deaths.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Supreme Court is expected to release an opinion on another fatal overdose case. The case stems from Fulton County, where a grand jury indicted Graham Williams on a felony murder charge for his role in the death of 28-year-old Gregg Ivey on Oct. 21, 2015. Prosecutors said Williams injected heroin into Ivey; a judge later dismissed the indictment.
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