Fentanyl overdoses and deaths have been a growing concern over the last several years, especially in the Southern parts of Florida. A recent guilty plea and sentencing sheds some light on the future of Lee county drug crimes and criminal defense.
As reported by Palm Beach Post, Calvin Warren Jr. has pleaded guilty in the second-degree murder of Thomas Matuseski. Thomas, an addiction and recovery counseler in Boynton Beach, was found unresponsive by his roommate with texts that connected back to Warren, who had sold him heroin that he later discovered had been laced with fentanyl. Texts asking if Thomas was alive incriminated him in the court case.
Sentenced to 22 years in prison, Warren is the first man in Palm Beach County to be convicted of homicide as a result of selling fentanyl that resulted in an overdose. Recent statute revisions that occurred shortly before Warren’s arrest included fentanyl with other drugs and narcotics that qualify for this homicide-by-sale conviction.
The Florida Department of Children and Families published a 2017-2018 report with figures showing that more than 100 deaths could be attributed to fentanyl in Lee county alone. State-wide deaths due to fentanyl had risen 25% (from 1,390 to 1,742). These sorts of statute revisions that led to Warren’s sentencing are part of the long process to figuring the best path to lowering drug related crimes and deaths.
Our legal system is always shifting to suit the times. It is important to keep up to date with how Florida continues to counter sensitive and potentially dangerous situations like the rise in fentanyl-based drug overdoses.