City of Pittsburgh charges dealer in connection with drug-involved death

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PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police announced Monday that Darnell Stephens is being charged with the death of Ian Williams, 23, who was found dead in a home on the South Side on March 22.

Williams was a student at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Stamp bags with an image of a lizard and marked "Lizz" were found on Cobden Street.

Pittsburgh police say they want to send a strong message with these charges: drug dealers are now being targeted in heroin deaths.

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In a news briefing, police said they used Williams' phone to link the sale to Stephens. Stephens was arrested on Neville Island on April 6.

Stephens was arrested again Monday morning after toxicology reports confirmed that Williams died of a combined drug toxicity, and that fentanyl was a direct and substantial factor in Williams' death. 

This is the first time an accused drug dealer in the city is charged in a heroin death.

Stephens is facing three felonies, including drug delivery resulting in death.

11 Investigates uncovered the fact that Williams is one of 175 overdose deaths involving fentanyl just this year in Allegheny County. Police are paying attention to the increasing number.

The Drug Enforcement Administration released new statistics that are raising concerns.

In 2014, 424 people died from overdoses, with 126 involving fentanyl. That number drastically increased last year with 649 overdose deaths, with 412 involving fentanyl.

Pittsburgh police say they're working with the U.S. Attorney's Office and details on other cases will be coming out in the next few weeks.

"We are going to investigate these cases, we are going to charge you with drug delivery resulting in death when we get that evidence, and you're going to go to jail," said police Cmdr. Reyne Kacsuta.

Other counties such as Butler, have been doing this too, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Channel 11’s legal analyst said he believes the district attorney’s office will have a tough case proving the suspect intended to kill Williams by selling him fentanyl.


 

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