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East St. Louis Man Convicted in Heroin Overdose Death

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL. - Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that TAVIS D. DOYLE, age 42, of East St. Louis, Illinois, was found guilty by a jury in United States District Court on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 of three federal criminal offenses: 1) Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Death; 2) Maintaining Premises for the Use and Distribution of Controlled Substances; and 3) Distribution of Crack Cocaine to a Person Under the Age of Twenty-One.

DOYLE was convicted after a two-week jury trial which began on February 7, 2011. DOYLE’S sentence hearing is scheduled for June 3, 2011 in United States District Court in East St. Louis. Because DOYLE was convicted of “Distribution Resulting in Death,” DOYLE faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.

According to evidence presented at trial, DOYLE sold heroin to Jonathan “J.J.” Ward on May 28, 2009 at a crackhouse which DOYLE maintained on Walter Street in East St. Louis. Ward, an Effingham, Illinois, resident who was 30 years old when he died, was pronounced “dead on arrival” at Barnes Hospital on May 29, 2009. Witnesses testified that DOYLE had refused to allow anyone at his residence to call 9-1-1 when Ward collapsed. Instead, DOYLE attempted (unsuccessfully) to revive Ward by placing frozen meat in Ward’s pants. DOYLE then insisted for several hours that Ward “just needed to sleep it off.” Acquaintances of Ward eventually transported Ward to Barnes, approximately twelve hours after Ward’s collapse.

DOYLE was also convicted of “Maintaining Drug-Involved Premises” at his residence on Walter Street from March, 2008 until May, 2009. According to dozens of witnesses who testified at DOYLE’S trial, DOYLE sold both crack cocaine and heroin “24/7" during that time period. Many of the witnesses against DOYLE were East St. Louis prostitutes who testified that DOYLE encouraged them to bring their prostitution customers into DOYLE’S residence to buy drugs.

DOYLE was also convicted of “Distribution of a Controlled Substance to a Person Under Age Twenty-One.” According to witnesses who testified at trial, DOYLE provided copious quantities of crack to a 17-year-old female runaway from rural Kentucky who lived with DOYLE during the summer and fall of 2008.

DOYLE was acquitted by the jury of a fourth count, in which the Government had charged DOYLE with “Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Serious Physical Injury.” The count on which DOYLE was acquitted concerned the alleged heroin overdose of a then-27-year-old Glen Carbon woman on March 17, 2009.

The two-year investigation which resulted in DOYLE’S conviction was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Glen Carbon Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert L. Garrison and Michael J. Quinley.

United States Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton made this statement concerning DOYLE’S conviction: “The United States Attorney’s Office is putting drug dealers on notice. You will be held responsible criminally for any deaths or serious injuries which you cause through the sale of drugs, even if you do not intend to kill or hurt someone. And we want drug dealers to know in advance that the penalties can be very severe indeed.”


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