Tulsa, OKLAHOMA – A young woman died from a heroin overdose a month ago. Once they got the autospy – they arrested the man they say is her drug dealer – and charged him with murder. Her name is Jillian Searle.
She died at 19 from an overdose of heroin, supplied by a dealer – leading to this tough talk from Tulsa County prosecutors.
"For far too long, those people have only been treated as drug dealers. We’re not doing that anymore," Erick Grayless, Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney.
Tulsa police, prosecutors and the State Attorney General say this case marks a shift towards investigating overdose deaths in a way that could lead to murder charges for the dealer.
"We’re certainly going to pursue others where we have that kind of evidence, and we think it will reduce the number of people who are willing to take up that endeavor as a lifestyle," said Chief Chuck Jordan with Tulsa Police.
Prosecutors charged 29-year-old Taylor Rogers with first degree murder. He was in jail on a burglary charge when detectives connected him to the drugs.
"We’re talking about the deliberate sale from a dealer to the user. The user in this sense, even though they’re using an illegal substance, are the victim; they’re trapped in that addiction and that system to where they can’t escape," said Grayless.
Tulsa Police say the case against Rogers came about because detectives could tie him to the drugs used by Searle – and the connection was strong enough for a first degree murder charge.
Rogers remains in jail. In addition to the murder charge, he’s awaiting trial for an unrelated burglary.