Abington man dies in custody awaiting trial on charge stemming from drug overdose death.
NORRISTOWN >> An Abington man awaiting trial on a homicide-related charge in connection with the drug overdose death of a Hatfield man last summer has died while in custody and his death is now under investigation.
Ronald M. Brauning Jr., 41, of the 1300 block of Birchwood Avenue, was found unresponsive at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Lower Providence on Oct. 9 and was later pronounced dead at Einstein Medical Center in East Norriton, county officials confirmed on Oct. 16.
John Corcoran, county director of communications, speaking on behalf of county jail officials, said Brauning’s death is under investigation by county authorities.
Kate Delano, director of communications for the district attorney’s office, confirmed that county detectives are investigating the nature of Brauning’s death.
County First Deputy Coroner Alexander Balacki said an autopsy was conducted during the investigation of Brauning’s death and that officials are awaiting the results of toxicology tests, which can take several weeks.
“The cause and manner of death are pending,” Balacki explained Oct. 16.
Brauning was arrested in March and was awaiting trial on charges of drug delivery resulting in death, involuntary manslaughter, possession of and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia in connection with the Aug. 14, 2017, overdose death of 36-year-old Ronald Solomon of Hatfield.
Brauning was being held at the county jail in lieu of $750,000 bail at the time of his death.
Last month, Brauning waived his arraignment in county court and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Brauning, who was represented by defense lawyer Carrie L. Allman, was scheduled for trial on Feb. 19, 2019, before Judge Thomas C. Branca. Assistant District Attorney James Price was handling the prosecution.
Court documents indicate that just a week before he allegedly sold methamphetamine to Solomon, Brauning nearly died from ingesting the same drug.
On Aug. 6, 2017, Upper Dublin police responded to a local hotel at 2:17 a.m. for a medical emergency and found Brauning unconscious on the bathroom floor of a hotel room. Officers administered two doses of naloxone and were able to revive Brauning. According to court papers, police seized suspected methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana and drug paraphernalia from the room.
An investigation of Solomon’s death began about 2:25 a.m. Aug. 14 when Hatfield police responded to Solomon’s home in the 1700 block of Koffel Road in Hatfield for a medical emergency involving an unresponsive person. Upon arrival police found Solomon’s girlfriend performing back compressions on Solomon, who was lying on a garage floor, according to the criminal complaint filed by Hatfield Detective Richard Hoffner and Special County Detective Gregory Pitchford.
Solomon’s girlfriend told detectives she awoke to find Solomon unresponsive on the floor and called 911, according to court papers.
Police began performing CPR and two doses of Naloxone were administered to Solomon but he remained unresponsive.
“Police and emergency medical services personnel performed lifesaving measures with no avail,” alleged Hoffner and Pitchford, adding Solomon was pronounced dead at a local hospital at 3:03 a.m.
An autopsy determined Solomon died as a result of the combined drug intoxication of heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine and the manner of death was ruled accident, according to court papers. Officials alleged the amount of fentanyl in the victim’s blood alone would have killed him, even in the absence of any of the other substances in his system.
Authorities alleged a bag of drugs was found hidden between Solomon’s cellphone and its rear case. Prosecutors alleged tests determined the bag contained methamphetamine.
During the investigation, detectives uncovered cellphone calls and text messages between Solomon and Brauning that occurred during the evening hours of Aug. 13. Investigators used cellphone analysis and mapping as well as video surveillance footage to determine that Solomon met Brauning sometime after 9:18 p.m. Aug, 13 at a residence on Penn Street in Lansdale and Brauning sold fentanyl and methamphetamine to Solomon, according to the criminal complaint.
Detectives also learned that Brauning was arrested at 3:10 a.m. Aug. 14, about 45 minutes after Solomon’s overdose death, by Montgomery Township police when he was found asleep in his vehicle on the parking lot of a hotel on Bethlehem Pike. Detectives alleged they found methamphetamine, a digital scale and heroin in a black pouch in Brauning’s possession.
“The five smaller bags of suspected crystal methamphetamine found in Ronald Brauning’s possession were found to be the same size, style, and type as the single bag of suspected crystal methamphetamine found inside Ronald Solomon’s cellular telephone’s protective phone case,” detectives alleged.