News and Press Releases


August 25, 2011

Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that Tavis D. Doyle, 43, of East St. Louis, Illinois, was sentenced today in United States District Court to prison for the rest of his life for the offense of Distribution of Heroin Resulting in Death. A jury previously convicted Doyle, on February 22, 2011, at the conclusion of a 2-week jury trial.

Doyle also received concurrent sentences of 60 years for Distribution of a Controlled Substance to a Person Under 21, and 20 years for Maintaining Drug-Involved Premises.

“Heroin distributors, such as Mr. Doyle, are no better than cold-blooded murders. Mr. Doyle’s actions reflect this fact and his sentence properly punishes his actions. My office will continue to pursue the distributors of illegal drugs and to bring them to justice for their crimes.” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “I have said in many places, at many events, that drug dealers are on notice – the poison you dispense kills people. You will be held responsible for your actions, even if you do not intend to kill. If convicted, your punishment will be severe, as Mr. Doyle has discovered.”

According to evidence presented at trial, Doyle sold heroin to Jonathan “J.J.” Ward on May 28, 2009, at a crack house 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.

In addition, 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.

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



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