Mississippi bill could lead to murder charges for fatal drug overdoses

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — There were more than three hundred drug overdose deaths in Mississippi in 2019.

A bill in the state legislature could mean dealers of drugs that kill someone could lead to a murder charge. As FOX13 found out, the bill has the backing of local law enforcement, but some legal scholars say not so fast.

According to the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office, in 2020, DeSoto County led the state in overdoses.

”In 2020, we had 40 overdose deaths, and in 2021 we had 50 deaths with a few more pending. So, it is a problem, and it is continuing to grow,” Captain Jeremy Dodson with DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office said.

Dodson said that he believes if the bill became law, it would work.

”Yes, sir. The bill would actually serve as a deterrent and give us a little more teeth in our fight against overdoses,” Dodson said.

Some in DeSoto County believe a law like this is much needed. Others said not so much.

”It is like an old law. If it was criminal then, it should be criminal now,” Roy Halcomb of Cockrum said.

”That won’t fix it. We have had a war on drugs. We have had a lot of different things to address drug problems for many years since I was a kid, and things haven’t changed a whole lot,” Mary Wilder of Olive Branch said.

Some legal scholars said the law wouldn’t work. Others said it depends on how straight of a line can be drawn between the drug dealer and the victim’s death.

”The intent is going to be the thing to prove. We have actually tried this before on some dealers in the area when we have had overdoses cause death, and it’s just the intent portion, and that is just going to be us working with the attorney’s office and what they need to get intent proven. We can charge people all day long with this, but it is going to be can they get them indicted,” Dodson said.