First-Degree Reckless Homicide/Delivery of Drugs
At only 24 years of age, Shuntaye Crenshaw was found guilty of first-degree reckless homicide/delivery of drugs in the death of Caleb Ford, just 18 years old, and now faces up to 25 years in prison at his sentencing in January. Ford, a student at Concordia University student, had a history of drug use. He and some friends pooled their money and bought a combination of drugs from Crenshaw. Ford died as a result of combining heroin (snorted) and Xanax. His roommate and two friends were charged with possession and kicked out of Concordia. 5 lives forever changed. Two of them lost, one died and the other will spend much of the next couple of decades behind bars. It hardly seems worth it, yet that is the game played by so many. Every time drugs are sold or bought, delivered or consumed, people are taking this risk.
There is a statute in the state of Wisconsin whereby the person who delivers drugs to someone, if that someone dies, can be charged with first-degree reckless homicide. I have linked the statute and included the relevant text below. If the drugs change hands multiple times, each person that sold or delivered the drugs can be charged. The drugs do not need to be sold, just delivered. So if you give your pills to someone, and they overdose, you could be charged with this crime. The price is steep, up to 25 years.
Let’s look at a couple scenarios. A high school junior takes Vicodin, that his Dad had left in the medicine cabinet after his knee surgery, to school with him and gives some to his best friend. That friend takes them to a party that night and passes them around. They drink on top of taking the Vicodin and one of the party goers dies as a result. Both the kid who took them from his Dad and his best friend could be charged with first-degree reckless homicide/delivery of drugs. How about the Mom, leaving on a business trip, who gives her teenage daughter a few OxyContin, that she has for her own back pain, to take for her menstrual cramps. She tells her to take one every twelve hours and that she’ll see her tomorrow. But the daughter, having seen her Mom take a few at a time, takes 3 and never wakes up. Her Mom finds her the next day. Not only has she lost her daughter, but she faces the real possibility that she could face time in prison for first-degree reckless homicide/delivery of drugs.
While Wisconsin prosecutors are becoming more aggressive in charging these types of crimes, the legal consequences vary widely. Some may get years in prison, others just a few months in jail, others are never charged. But as the drug problem continues to grow, the necessity to do something will require prosecutors to take a closer look at how to deal with these cases. Perhaps fear of imprisonment will make people think twice, perhaps not. But knowing it is criminal to ‘share’ their prescription drugs, may prevent some from doing it.
I’m not sure that locking up a high school student or a Mom, who lost their friend or daughter due to an error in judgement, is the right thing to do, but I do think we need to hold people accountable for their behavior. Maybe we force them to share their story at high schools, hospitals and/or churches across the country. Maybe they write a book with profits, if any, going towards getting their story distributed to high schools, hospitals and/or churches across the country. I’m not sure. But let’s not let these types of events pass by without recognition. Let’s tell the stories and learn from them. Let’s open our ears and listen. Let’s share what has happened to us so that others learn what they can do to prevent this opioid epidemic from growing even more.
940.02 First-degree reckless homicide.
(2) Whoever causes the death of another human being under any of the following circumstances is guilty of a Class C felony:
(a) By manufacture, distribution or delivery, in violation of s. 961.41, of a controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961, of a controlled substance analog of a controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961 or of ketamine or flunitrazepam, if another human being uses the controlled substance or controlled substance analog and dies as a result of that use. This paragraph applies:
1 Whether the human being dies as a result of using the controlled substance or controlled substance analog by itself or with any compound, mixture, diluent or other substance mixed or combined with the controlled substance or controlled substance analog.
2 Whether or not the controlled substance or controlled substance analog is mixed or combined with any compound, mixture, diluent or other substance after the violation of s. 961.41 occurs.
3 To any distribution or delivery described in this paragraph, regardless of whether the distribution or delivery is made directly to the human being who dies. If possession of the controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961, of the controlled substance analog of the controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961 or of the ketamine or flunitrazepam is transferred more than once prior to the death as described in this paragraph, each person who distributes or delivers the controlled substance or controlled substance analog in violation of s. 961.41 is guilty under this paragraph.
(b) By administering or assisting in administering a controlled substance included in schedule I or II under ch. 961, a controlled substance analog of a controlled substance included in schedule I or II of ch. 961 or ketamine or flunitrazepam, without lawful authority to do so, to another human being and that human being dies as a result of the use of the substance. This paragraph applies whether the human being dies as a result of using the controlled substance or controlled substance analog by itself or with any compound, mixture, diluent or other substance mixed or combined with the controlled substance or controlled substance analog.