Brown sentenced to 16 years in overdose death
Bowman gets suspended sentence
CENTREVILLE — Don Diego Brown, 58, of Ingleside was sentenced in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Tuesday, March 21, to serve 16 years in the Maryland Division of Corrections for distribution of heroin in connection with the overdose death of Crystal Jean Ringgold at Subway, 230 St. Claire Place, in Stevensville. Judge Thomas Smith, a retired judge from Prince George’s County, issued the sentence. Brown had pleaded guilty in a plea agreement Jan. 24.
Ringgold, who worked at Subway, was last seen by her fellow employees about 10 a.m. Sept. 14, 2016. Around 11:35 a.m., they realized she was missing and, after repeated knocks on the bathroom door went unanswered, they called 911, police said. Emergency medical personnel found Ringgold unresponsive on the floor of the women’s restroom at 11:40 a.m. from a suspected heroin overdose. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. A purse containing three syringes, a baggie of suspected heroin and a spoon with burn marks was recovered from the scene, police said. Both the Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office responded.
An autopsy by Dr. Patricia Aronica determined Ringgold’s cause of death to be fentanyl and morphine intoxication, according to the Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. She said the death was 100 percent heroin related with no other contributing factors.
Crystal Ringgold was a 27-year-old, single mother of an 8-year-old boy.
The Drug Task Force reviewed Ringgold’s cell phone history, surveillance footage from the Subway restaurant, surveillance footage from the Shore Stop located just across the parking lot, and surveillance footage from the nearby Queenstown Bank.
The Task Force investigation revealed the following chain of events between 8:20 and 10 a.m.:
• Text messages between Crystal and a female identified as “Rachel” where Crystal is trying to purchase heroin.
• Rachel tells Crystal that she does not have any to sell to Crystal.
• Crystal advises that she is experiencing “dope sickness.”
• Crystal received a paycheck for $285.51 and cashes it.
• Crystal continues to text back and forth with Rachel, who was working at the Shore Stop at the same time Crystal was working at Subway.
• Crystal visits Rachel at the Shore Stop before returning to Subway.
• Crystal texts an individual identified as “Don” and asks “how much do I owe you for gram?” “Don” responds “140” and Crystal advises “I will give you a extra 20 if you get here quick. Lol”
• “Don” responds that he is on his way.
• At 9:53 a.m. a black Toyota Camry driven by “Don” pulls into the Subway parking lot.
• Crystal walks out to the parking lot to meet “Don” then returns to the Subway.
• At 9:55 a.m. Crystal enters the women’s bathroom inside of Subway and doesn’t exit.
“Don” was identified as Don Diego Brown. “Rachel” was identified as Rachel Maury Bowman, 21, of Church Hill.
Both Brown and Bowman were originally charged with manslaughter. Those charges were dropped when the pair were indicted Oct. 4, 2016, before Judge Karen Jensen on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, reckless endangerment, conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance and additional counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, not marijuana.
Ringgold’s death and the surrounding circumstances occured at a time in which heroin related overdoses have reached epidemic proportions prompting federal, state and county responses. The matter was prosecuted by Deputy State’s Attorney Christine Dulla Rickard and Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer R. Doud, both of whom recently provided testimony regarding this case to the Maryland General Assembly (House Bill 687 and Senate Bill 539) in hopes of creating a law for the distribution of an opioid (or opioid analogue) which results in the death of another.
Bowman also took a plea deal. She pleaded guilty Jan. 19 to possession of Suboxone and possession of heroin and was sentenced March 7 to eight years of incarceration, which was suspended. She was placed on 30 months of supervised probation. Bowman had no prior criminal record.
At the time of his arrest, Brown was on parole or probation from a 25-year sentence in a first-degree assault conviction stemming from an incident in 2001. He also faces the balance of time on that offense.
Brown’s criminal record begins in 1978 and is fairly consistent until 2001 at which point he was incarcerated until 2015, police said. This record consists of two forgeries, two assaults with intent to rob, one robbery, two thefts, two simple possessions of controlled dangerous substances, one possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances, and the one first-degree assault.
Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson and Sheriff Gary Hofmann credited the hard work of investigators from the Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force, quick response and thinking in regard to evidence preservation and witness statements by responding patrol officers and criminal investigators from the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office along with long hours of case review and trial preparation for the successful arrest and prosecution of those responsible for delivering the heroin that led to Ringgold’s overdose death.
RACHEL MAURY BOWMAN
DON DIEGO BROWN