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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Drug Dealer Found Guilty Of Distributing Fentanyl Causing Death Of Veteran In Kalamazoo

Deondray Christopher Abrams now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Yesterday evening, a jury in federal district court in Kalamazoo found Deondray Christopher Abrams guilty of distributing fentanyl on March 21, 2017, which resulted in the death of Brandon Jay Demko, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from severe PTSD. Due to Abrams’ prior conviction, this offense carries a statutory mandatory term of life in prison. Abrams is scheduled to be sentenced on April 8, 2018.

Abrams, 26, of Kalamazoo, sold fentanyl on March 21, 2017, as heroin. Fentanyl is at least 40 times more powerful than heroin. Brandon Demko used the fentanyl believing it to be heroin. He became unconscious and ultimately died. In response to a 911 call, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers and LIFE EMS paramedics tried diligently to revive Mr. Demko but were unsuccessful. Officer John Khillah, with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team, conducted the investigation into the source of the fentanyl. After a two day-long trial, the federal jury convicted Abrams of distributing the fentanyl that killed Mr. Demko.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge warned: "Fentanyl is increasingly available in Western Michigan. Drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with heroin and, as in this case, selling fentanyl as heroin. Fentanyl is so much more powerful than heroin that opioid deaths have risen in the past few years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively prosecute opioid drug dealers whose product results in death."

"We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of opioid related overdoses recently. The combined state and federal efforts has brought closure to this case. We hope that this outcome will deter people from using or dealing these deadly substances," said Executive Lt. Mike Kelley of the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team and COPS Division Commander.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Austin J. Hakes and B. Rene Shekmer. Prosecution would not have been possible without the combined assistance of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team, the Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Michigan State Police, the Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

END

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Updated November 30, 2018