By Matt Kroschel
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – An inmate in a Denver community corrections program allegedly took part in a drug overdose and cover up in Summit County, CBS4 has learned.
William Walker Lancaster, 27, and Brandon Johnson face felony manslaughter charges in connection with the November 2015 death of Mark Largay, a victim of a fentanyl overdose.
According to newly obtained court documents, Johnson was in the community corrections program called the Delilah Center off East 46th Avenue in Denver at the time of the overdose death. He faces a long list of charges including allegations he tried to cover up his involvement and manslaughter, the indictment states.
“Illicit opioid abuse is rising at an alarming rate and it is critical that we hold drug sellers, particularly those who are trafficking dangerous opioids, responsible for the pain and death that they are causing,” said District Attorney Bruce Brown.
According to the Indictment, on Nov. 1, 2015, Largay exchanged several text messages with Lancaster regarding the purchase of fentanyl patches. Largay then traveled to Denver where Johnson was living to complete the transaction.
In a prepared statement, the Brown said “simultaneous to purchasing the patches from Johnson, Largay was texting William Lancaster who was advising him on the purchase terms and warning him that the price Johnson was requesting was ‘steep’ for the amount of the drug that Largay was buying.”
Lancaster’s text messages included advice on how to ingest the fentanyl to maximize the high and he even offered to “extract” the fentanyl from the patches that Largay purchased. Lancaster told Largay that gel patches were better than other forms of the drug.
Lancaster had researched fentanyl on the Internet and found a source that said fentanyl could not be detected by normal 10 or 12 panel drug tests. He shared that information with Largay who was subjected to court-ordered drug testing at the time and offered to share the patches with him, investigators allege.
Lancaster warned Largay in the text messages that he had to be “super careful” while smoking fentanyl “because people die that way all the time.”
On Nov. 2 Largay was found unconscious in his Summit County home, and when attempts to revive him were unsuccessful he was pronounced dead. A death certificate lists respiratory arrest due to fentanyl overdose as the cause of death. A post-mortem blood test indicated the presence of a lethal dose of fentanyl.
“After his death, Lancaster asked Largay’s girlfriend to erase any text messages between Lancaster and Largay from Largay’s cellular telephone. She refused which led to the discovery of much of the information related to the indictment,” Brown added.
Under Colorado law, asking another person to erase text messages when those messages contain evidence of a crime to be used in a future court proceeding constitutes felony tampering with evidence.
Both suspects will be in a Summit County courtroom Monday morning.