As part of a new county-wide initiative, three individuals have been indicted on charges of homicide in separate cases.
The Brown County Prosecutor’s Office announced on Aug. 13 that Kevin Blake Tucker, Joshua F. Brockman, and Brandy S. Keith had all been charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree, among many other charges relating to separate deaths due to drug overdoses.
“For the longest time, if we had an overdose death in the county, it was treated just as a statistic and that was the end of it,” Brown County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Zac Corbin told the News Democrat. “But now we’re going to start going back and really investigating it. We’re going to talk to the family members and those closest to the victims to find the source of the drugs. And when we find that, those individuals are going to be charged.”
Corbin said that his office has been working with the Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force, which consists of members of the Mt. Orab Police Department, Georgetown Police Department, and Brown County Sheriff’s Office, to help decrease the flow of drugs into the county.
The Ohio Department of Health ranked Brown County last in the state for the second consecutive year for having the most accidental deaths due to drug overdoses per 100,000 people.
“The goal is to collaborate between all the law enforcement agencies in order to work the way up the supply chain and get to the folks distributing the drugs in the county,” Corbin said. “When we have these overdose deaths, we’re going to investigate these seriously.
“We’re going to start charging those supplying the drugs with involuntary manslaughter.”
Tucker, 22, of Georgetown, was indicted on four counts, including two counts of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, one count of corrupting another with drugs, a second-degree felony, and one count of trafficking in heroin, a fifth-degree felony, according to his bill of indictment from the Brown County Court of Common Pleas.
Tucker was involved in the death of Georgetown resident Danny Smith, who died on the night of June 17 after receiving heroin from Tucker and another individual, Meribeth Denny, according to documents filed in the Brown County Municipal Court. The documents state that Tucker and Denny traveled to Cincinnati to purchase heroin from an unknown individual. The documents include conflicting reports over how Smith received heroin, though Denny did say in a police interview that she saw Smith using a syringe to inject the drug.
Soon after, Smith became unresponsive, and multiple attempts to revive him proved unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene at his home.
Brockman, 34, of Mt. Orab, was indicted on eight charges, including two counts of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, one count of corrupting another with drugs, a second-degree felony, one count of aggravated trafficking in drugs, a fourth-degree felony, one count of possession of cocaine, a fifth-degree felony, one count of possession of heroin, a fifth-degree felony, and one count of aggravated possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony, according to his bill of indictment.
Brockman was involved in an incident on the night of May 25 that ended in the death of Dennis Cook. According to court documents, Cook, of Mt. Orab, left his home to visit Brockman late in the evening of May 25 before returning home. He was found unresponsive, and ultimately passed away in his bathroom at home, with a syringe next to his body and a spoon with white powder residue on it, according to the documents.
In interviews with the Mt. Orab Police Department, Brockman admitted to selling Cook $40 of heroin.
Keith, 33, of Mt. Orab, was indicted on six charges, including two counts of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, one count of corrupting another with drugs, a second-degree felony, one count of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs, a third-degree felony, one count of trafficking in heroin, a fifth-degree felony, and one count of trafficking in drugs, a fifth-degree felony, according to her bill of indictment.
According to municipal court records, Keith was involved in an incident from April 11 through April 12 that resulted in the death of Terry Day. The documents state that an unidentified witness helped the Mt. Orab Police Department locate Keith and her vehicle, and the recovery of Day’s cell phone showed the Mt. Orab PD numerous text messages between Keith and Day.
After a search warrant on her home address was served on June 10, Keith appeared at the Mt. Orab PD for questioning and admitted that she and Day had traveled to Cincinnati to purchase $50 of heroin, and that they snorted the drug at a traffic light on the way back to Mt. Orab. After bringing Day back to his home, Day’s mother had to help him get out of the car and get inside. He was found dead the next morning, and according to the court documents, an autopsy performed by the Montgomery County coroner showed that Day died of heroin and ethanol intoxication.
Although Corbin said that the cases surrounding the three individuals indicted don’t appear to be related, they appear to be the first group of individuals that have been charged with involuntary manslaughter due to supplying drugs to another individual who ends up dying of a drug overdose.
The involuntary manslaughter charge cites Ohio Revised Code statute 2903.04 (A), which states “No person shall cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy as a proximate result of the offender’s committing or attempting to commit a felony.”
The language of the statute is vague enough that the felony committed by an offender that lead to another’s death could be possession of drugs or corrupting another with drugs, both serious felonies.
“These cases should send a message to those that choose to sell drugs in Brown County that they will be held accountable if the drugs they sell cause a deadly overdose,” Corbin said in a press release. “We are taking the heroin epidemic very seriously, and we are not going to allow those that deal drugs and cause overdose deaths to go unpunished.”