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Man charged in overdose death

BY Carolyn Muyskens - cmuyskens@chronicle-tribune.com

A Marion man is one of the first in the state to face a new criminal offense created by the General Assembly in 2018.

Stephen Sloan, 50, of Marion, was arrested in January on a charge of dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death, a Level 1 felony which carries a prison sentence of up to 40 years.

Sloan is accused of supplying the heroin that contributed to the fatal overdose of Lillie Brotherton, 31, on Jan. 23, according to court filings.

To date Indiana prosecutors have filed the new charge just eight times in total, said Zach Osowski, public information officer for the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

All eight of those charges have been Level 1 felony charges. The Level 1 felony covers deaths linked to narcotics such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl.

The new law also provides for Level 2 and 3 felony charges in cases involving other types of illegal drugs.

Deputy Prosecutor Jamie Moore said Sloan is the first to be charged with the offense in Grant County.

Moore said the dealing resulting in death charge is a “very unique charge” since it’s difficult in general to prove that narcotics from a specific supplier led to an overdose death.

The new law allows prosecutors to seek higher penalties when dealers can be linked to drug-related fatalities.

Moore said without the new law in effect, Sloan likely would have faced something like a Level 5 felony dealing charge. The Level 5 felony has a possible sentence of 1 to 6 years in prison, in contrast to the charge Sloan is facing, which has a possible sentence of 20 to 40 years.

When Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law last year, he said the legislation was part of the state’s mission to stem the tide of drug overdose deaths and hold suppliers accountable.

“Enforcement plays an important role in decreasing the supply of and demand for these devastating substances, and this bill is a key part of the state’s comprehensive approach to curb the opioid epidemic,” a statement from the governor’s office said.

Sloan’s bond is set at $100,000.