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Murder Charge Filed in Accidental Overdose

Batesville case will test whether "felony murder" principle applies to dealing, administering drugs

(BATESVILLE) - It may be the first case of its kind: an accused drug dealer is charged with felony murder after a customer died of an overdose.

If someone dies while you're committing a felony, you can be charged with felony murder. But Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel acknowledges this may be the first time that charge has been filed when the felony is drug dealing.

Hertel has filed murder charges against Alvin Trimnell, who's accused of selling heroin, and against Nathaniel Wamsley of Batesville, who Hertel says gave his wife Rachel a fatal injection. An autopsy revealed it wasn't heroin -- at least some of it was fentanyl, which is cheaper and more potent.

The charge carries a possible 45-to-65 years in prison.

Hertel says with even small communities like Batesville struggling with an opioid epidemic, prosecutors need every possible tool to fight back. 

Indianapolis Senator Jim Merritt (R) plans to introduce a bill that would explicitly authorize a murder charge against drug dealers whose products lead to fatal overdoses. Governor Holcomb has made it part of his legislative agenda.

Indiana had more than a thousand accidental overdose deaths last year.

(Photo: Brian A. Jackson/Thinkstock)

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