Overdose murder suspect placed on house arrest
Lawyer calls second-degree homicide allegation in woman’s August opioid death ‘politically based’
A judge granted a St. Mary’s man release from jail on Tuesday to be on house arrest at his parents’ home as he awaits further court proceedings on a charge of second-degree murder from a drug-overdose investigation.
Prosecutors publically announced last month the recent filing of homicide charges against six people, including 30-year-old Geoffrey Walter Uhall, who also is accused of distributing heroin and fentanyl in Lexington Park last April in connection with the death of Colleen Marie Cord. Uhall originally was jailed without bond after his arrest in early August.
“The charge of second-degree murder is severely overreaching,” James E. Farmer, Uhall’s lawyer, said Tuesday in court. “It is more politically based,” the lawyer argued, than based on law.
St. Mary’s Circuit Judge David W. Densford urged Farmer to not delve into prosecutors’ motivation in the matter. The lawyer said that their focus was misdirected toward his client instead of the person who sold the drugs to Cord and Uhall.
“This is not the appropriate person to focus on,” Farmer said of his client. “They go together to the dealer. [Uhall] snorts some of this heroin himself … [after] she gave him money to get drugs that they both used together.”
Uhall received $40 from the woman, and added $40 of his own money to make the purchase, the lawyer said, repeatedly contesting any allegation that Uhall is a drug dealer or distributor.
“He adds money to it, and goes up and gets this quantity of powder heroin. We believe she got fentanyl from someone else,” Farmer said in reference to the more lethal synthetic opioid.
St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz (R) countered that Uhall’s conduct amounted to being a drug distributor.
“I don’t care if it’s for money or for fun,” the prosecutor said. “That is a crime.”
Fritz also said that Uhall destroyed a cellphone to conceal evidence of the transaction, and that a search of Uhall’s possessions revealed evidence of a “cutting agent,” a substance mixed with pur- chased drugs to increase their weight before reselling them.
“How many people have we saved as a result of him being in jail?” the prosecutor asked.
In rebuttal, Farmer said the alleged cutting agent was not at the home of Uhall’s parents, where he’ll now be staying, and the lawyer reiterated that fentanyl was not in the drugs that his client purchased and used with the woman.
“He’s shocked if what he took killed this woman,” the lawyer said.
Densford inquired if Uhall’s parents understood their responsibility if their son was released to their home.
“I welcome the opportunity to squeal on my own son,” Uhall’s father replied.
The judge noted that the suspect had spent 12 days in inpatient drug treatment, before his arrest and after a much longer period of drug abuse.
“You are a danger to the community, with a five-year habit, and you’re a flight risk,” Densford said, “but it’s minimal.”
The judge ordered that Uhall be on electronic monitoring, with work-release privileges, and under pretrial supervision including multiple urinalysis tests and checkins with authorities each week until his trial.