Multiple news outlets have reported that a 41-year-old mother from New Hampshire has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and reckless conduct related to her 17-year-old daughter’s fatal drug overdose.
According to the Rochester Police Department, Jazzmyn Rood knew her daughter, Eve Tarmey, had been using heroin for two years prior to her death. Court testimony revealed that on October 17, 2015, Jazzmyn and Eve were together in a motel room with Jazzmyn’s boyfriend, Mark Ross. Eve had been with Ross earlier in the day when he had bought $80 worth of heroin. They met up with Jazzmyn at the Riviera Motel in Rochester after obtaining the drugs, and Ross allegedly injected some of the heroin into Jazzmyn. The police claim that Ross then told Jazzmyn to go to the bathroom. When Jazzmyn left, Ross gave some of the heroin to Eve. Eve then crushed the heroin and snorted it with a straw. Jazzmyn, Eve, and Ross went to sleep. Later in the night, Ross woke up and realized Eve was dead in her bed. The Boston Globe reported that after realizing Eve was dead, Ross threw drug paraphernalia evidence into a dumpster, deleted text messages related to buying drugs, and called his dealer and threatened to kill him for selling a “bad” batch of heroin. He didn’t call the police for about half an hour.
The New Hampshire Medical Examiner concluded that Eve died of an accidental drug overdose. The drug that actually killed Eve was fentanyl, which is a painkiller that is sometimes mixed with heroin. Fentanyl has been responsible for many of the accidental drug overdoses that have plagued Massachusetts and surrounding states during the past couple of years. Ross was also arrested and was charged with dispensing a controlled drug resulting in death along with witness tampering. The maximum penalty for dispensing a controlled substance resulting in death is life in prison. At their arraignments, Jazzmyn was held on $10,000 bail, and Ross was held on $50,000 bail.
Massachusetts has been struggling with large numbers of drug overdoses for the past few years. It’s become such a large problem that presidential candidates who have been traveling through the region have been questioned about what they will do to combat the overdose epidemic. Ironically, as lawmakers are trying to find solutions to the problem, they are also considering whether to reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum prison sentences that are given to defendants who are convicted of some drug dealing offenses.
Anyone who distributes illegal drugs in Massachusetts is guilty of a crime. “Distribute” does not only mean “sell” – a person who gives drugs to his friend is also guilty of distribution. But if the person who receives the drugs ends up dying of an overdose, the distributor could be charged with crime much more serious than distribution. There have been cases in Massachusetts in which defendants have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter for distributing drugs that later kill the user. A person commits involuntary manslaughter by engaging in wanton or reckless conduct that disregards the probable harmful consequences to another person and results in that person’s death.
The problem of substance abuse is serious and needs to be addressed by our legislators. While drug dealers will continue to be punished in the criminal justice system, it’s important that our society provides the resources to drug users to help them kick their addictions.