Three Columbia Men Sentenced for Distributing Synthetic Heroin, Resulting in Death
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that three Columbia, Mo., men have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in distributing synthetic heroin, which resulted in the death of an 18-year-old man.
Marquette Deandre Murrell, 26, Nick Connor Burris, 22, and Nathaniel Dean Rodgers, 23, all of Columbia, were sentenced in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough on Tuesday, Nov. 8,2016. Murrell was sentenced to five years in federal prison without parole. Burris was sentenced to three years in federal prison without parole. Rodgers was sentenced to five years of probation.
Murrell and Burris each pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute acetyl fentanyl (synthetic heroin) in August 2015. Rodgers pleaded guilty to maintaining a place for the purpose of distributing and using acetyl fentanyl.
Columbia Police Department officers were dispatched to an apartment in the 2400 block of West Broadway in reference to a drug overdose at approximately 12:33 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2015. Upon arrival, officers located an 18-year-old deceased white male. Burris admitted that he supplied the drug which the deceased man had taken immediately prior to overdosing. The toxicology report from the autopsy of the deceased male identified the cause of death as an overdose by the combination of acetyl fentanyl and cocaine that was ruled an accident.
Officers located a bag containing the synthetic heroin on Burris. Burris admitted to purchasing the heroin the deceased man took from Murrell, and bringing it to the apartment where the overdose occurred. Burris also commented that Murrell told him the heroin was 95 percent pure, and that efforts should be made to dilute the purity by adding a cutting agent. Burris mixed the synthetic heroin with Benadryl before distributing it to the victim.
Rodgers stated that he allowed Burris, who brought what Rodgers believed to be heroin, to come to his apartment. On the previous morning, Aug. 8, 2015, Burris had distributed a “speedball” to Rodgers. Rodgers believed the “speedball” contained heroin and cocaine. Rodgers reported that he overdosed but lived. Thereafter, Rodgers helped Burris cut the purity of the drug by adding Benadryl to the substance.
The deceased male used the substance mixed by Burris and Rodgers. Others at Rodgers’ apartment attempted to revive the deceased male by placing him in cold water and then attempting to have him vomit. Rodgers estimated that 10 minutes passed before emergency responders arrived at his apartment.
At approximately 7 p.m. the same day, Murrell was located near downtown Columbia and taken into custody. Murrell was in possession of a bag containing numerous suspected Alprazolam pills and approximately four grams of synthetic heroin. Murrell admitted that he supplied the drug that Burris mixed with Benadryl and distributed to the deceased male.
This case was prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Columbia, Mo., Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.