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Virginia mom hopes new bill brings justice she didn't get in daughter's overdose death

"Amanda's Law" would give prosecutors the chance to charge more drug dealers with felony homicide.

MANASSAS, Va. — The bill has passed the House and Senate and is sitting on the governor's desk awaiting a signature.

It's named for 27-year-old Amanda Chazen, who died on March 20, 2018 from a fentanyl overdose.

“Amanda was a 27-year-old EMT, type of personality that would light up a room…she had all kinds of aspirations," said Amanda's mom, Mary Ellen Chazen.

Amanda had been prescribed opioid pills after two accidents on the job. She had thrown out her back lifting a patient who was too heavy for her to carry.

Then, she suffered more injuries when her ambulance got into an accident with her in the back.

The day Amanda died, her mom says she was in desperate need of a refill.

“I had visited with her a few hours beforehand, and she was sobbing, she was in so much pain," said Mary Ellen.

She says Virginia law makes it difficult to heal the pain she and her family now have to live with.

Delegate Tim Hugo says thanks to the ruling in Woodard v. The Commonwealth of Virginia, drug dealers in essence can't be prosecuted for felony homicide unless their customer's death happened right around the same time and area they dealt the drug.

Delegate Hugo's bill would remove those restrictions, so prosecutors would have more opportunity to charge dealers with murder in cases like Amanda's.

“I want other families who are going through the death of a child to know that there will be justice for the death of their child. I want the people who are tempted to go to a party to know if they go and hand out drugs, there’s going to be prison time...I’m not sure it’s going to make a whole lot of difference in Amanda’s case, but I worry about future families. We’re losing a generation of kids, and that’s just not right," said Mary Ellen.

Maryland also does not have a statue making drug distribution resulting in death a crime.

On top of that, the 2018 court ruling in Patrick Joseph Thomas v. The State of Maryland could make it more difficult for prosecutors to add murder or manslaughter charges in drug cases.

One judge stated, "we can infer...that a drug dealer wishes for his customers to remain alive so that he may sell them more heroin."

If Virginia's governor agrees with his Congress that more responsibility lies with the dealer, Amanda's Law would go into effect on July 1.