Wednesday, May 9, 2012

First-degree murder charges in designer drug deaths becomes law

Legislation aimed at closing legal loopholes in deaths resulting from designer drugs has been signed into law. Senate Bill 987, by Senator Susan Paddack and Rep Tom Newell, expands the definition of murder in the first degree to include deaths resulting from the manufacture or distribution of a synthetic, or “designer drug” as well as the manufacturing of drugs that result in a death, as in a meth lab explosion. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law on Tuesday.
Paddack said she filed the legislation after East Central University students Stacey Jewell and Andrew Ackerman died last year after using “2-Bromo Dragonfly,” a designer drug still available on the Internet that can cause hallucinations, vomiting, seizures and rapid heartbeat. Prosecutors said because of how the current law was written, the individual responsible could not be charged with first degree murder.
“Designer drugs can be just as lethal as heroin or cocaine, but because our statutes did not specifically address them, prosecutors had their hands tied when seeking justice,” said Paddack, D-Ada. “With this new law, deaths resulting from the sale or manufacture of these new drugs can be prosecuted as first degree murder cases.”
The legislation also expands the first degree murder definition to include deaths from the manufacturing of drugs, such as meth lab explosions.
“This new law will allow prosecutors to go after the dealers and manufacturers of synthetic drugs and meth cooks when their product or manufacturing process leads to someone’s death,” said Newell, R-Seminole. “This legislation was long overdue and had this sort of a law been in place, we may have seen fewer deaths caused by synthetic drugs in Oklahoma communities last year.”
The new law becomes effective November 1, 2012.

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