FREDERICK, Md. — Prosecutors in Frederick County, Md. are being applauded for charging a woman with felony negligent manslaughter for allegedly dealing the opioids that caused the overdose death of a man.
But a 2018 ruling from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals is likely to make the case a challenge to win.
Briona Rae Davis, 23, is being held without bail after the charges were filed.
Davis is accused of spiking heroin with the lethal animal tranquilizer Carfentanil before selling it to a 38-year-old Woodsboro man.
The man died from an overdose in March of 2017.
The charges were filed despite a 2018 decision from Maryland’s highest court overturning the conviction of a drug dealer in a similar case.
The judges wrote that prosecutors "Failed to find a causal nexus between the defendant’s act and the victim’s death." The ruling went on to state, "We can infer the opposite -- that a drug dealer wishes for his customers to remain alive so that he may sell them more heroin."
"We do not apportion criminal liability for manslaughter merely because of bad luck," the court added.
At least 20 states have drug-induced homicide laws allowing prosecutors to charge drug dealers for the deaths of customers. Maryland is not among those states.
In 2017, a similar law was proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan but was heavily amended by legislators. The law does allow for adding 10 years to the sentences of drug dealers who knowingly add fentanyl and carfentanil to the heroin they sell.
Frederick County State's Attorney Charles Smith III was not available to comment on his office’s decision to charge Davis with felony negligent manslaughter.