Man sentenced for fentanyl after overdose death
Acquitted of murder, Blackiston could be released in about a year
A Lexington Park man, convicted last winter of the distribution of a synthetic opioid, returned to court Wednesday to receive his sentence for the charge that arose from an overdose death investigation in the spring of 2017 at a housing area off Willows Road.
Marcell Davon Blackiston, now 32, was ac-
quitted of second-degree “depraved heart” murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old DeAnna Lynn Howeth.
Blackiston’s convictions in the case on counts of reckless endangerment and the distribution of heroin were merged into the conviction for the distribution of fentanyl, which at that time of the crime carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in pris-
on. A sentencing guidelines report recommended a penalty for Blackiston of seven to 14 years in prison, and at this week’s court proceeding, a judge sentenced Blackiston to 12 years in prison, suspended that sentence to eight years in custody, told him he might be eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of the term, and gave him credit for 328
days already served in pretrial custody.
He could be released from prison in about one year, based on the sentence.
Blackiston was one of six people indicted last summer on murder charges arising from overdose investigations, a tactic launched by St. Mary’s police and prosecutors that was presented at a press conference held at the county courthouse in Leonardtown. All but one of the cases have been resolved through pleas or convictions on
lesser homicide charges or drug offenses, and a trial of the last remaining case has been postponed in the wake of an appeals court’s ruling that overturned a homicide conviction from a drug overdose death in another jurisdiction.
St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz (R) argued this week in court that drug dealers know the dangerousness of the synthetic opioids they mix into the drugs they sell. “It’s almost like giving candy to a baby,” the prosecutor said, “and
telling them to walk down the hall without licking it. They can’t make it.”
Matthew Connell, Blackiston’s public defender, said there was no evidence that the presence of fentanyl in the drugs was known by anyone involved in the transaction, including his client, or a witness who died of an overdose shortly after the trial and while Blackiston was in jail. The judge was told that 12 overdose deaths have occurred in St. Mary’s this year.
Connell said of the pros- ecutorial tactic, “It’s not going to achieve the result that’s desired.”
Blackiston said to the judge, “I’ve struggled with addiction myself. I can’t fault nobody else.”
St. Mary’s Circuit Judge David W. Densford said of Blackiston’s future, “It’s more in your hands than anyone else’s,” and the judge noted Blackiston’s role in another matter not detailed in court. “They trusted you enough to testify,” the judge said, “which apparently you did.”