A jury spent seven hours discussing whether a Wayne man accused of supplying the drug that caused the death of a Risingsun woman was innocent or guilty. The verdict late Friday was guilty on all five counts.
Matthew Allen, 40, was on trial last week for involuntary manslaughter for furnishing the drug that killed Sherry L. McHaffie. She died on December, 4, 2018.
In closing statements, defense attorney Merle Dech Jr. said there were holes in the state’s case. “The deceased reached out to many people to get drugs, which leads to reasonable doubt that my client supplied drugs to Sherry McHaffie,” he said.
Facebook and text messages show there were numerous opportunities from other people willing to sell drugs to McHaffie, Dech said. “None of those people other than Mr. Allen were followed up.” Also, there is no way to tell how Allen’s DNA got on the baggie found in the pill bottle, Dech said. Toxicology shows no cocaine in her system, yet the state says that caused her death, he said.
“Reasonable doubt is present throughout this case,” Dech said. There is no timeline when the drug was consumed, he added, and a detective testified that the victim could have purchased the drugs from someone else. “Yes, it is possible’ — is reasonable doubt,” Dech said. The state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his client provided drugs to McHaffie.
“When you look at the people involved in her final days looking for drugs … none of those people other than Mr. Allen were followed up on,” Dech said. Wood County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brian Boos on Friday asked the jury to use common sense when looking at the evidence. If someone is found dead on top of a pill bottle with a baggie that has fentanyl residue, cocaine residue, and Xanax pills — and the toxicology shows those three substances in her blood, common sense says that is the substance used to cause her overdose, Boos said. A baggie containing white powder was found in a pill bottle under a sofa cushion on which McHaffie was found. Testing found it to be fentanyl laced with cocaine, he said. There were only two major DNA profiles on that baggie and they belonged to McHaffie and Allen, Boos said. McHaffie messaged many people for drugs, but Allen was the only one who responded and provided her the drugs less than a day before she died, Boos said.
The Wood County Sheriff’s Office reviewed texts and Facebook messages between McHaffie and Allen less than 24 hours before she was found, and a message he sent her said he may be able to get some heroin and bring it over after work. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than heroin, which she was asking for, Boos said. Boos said that the detective on the case followed the evidence.
“He is a major contributor because he is the person that used it and the person that provided it,” Boos said of Allen. “Anything is possible, that someone else sold the drugs. … But is it reasonable when it is his DNA, when it’s his text messages a day before she is found deceased?
“The evidence establishes the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Allen was indicted in November 2019 on five criminal charges, including involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, and corrupting another with drugs. The manslaughter charge is a first-degree felony, the homicide charge is a third-degree felony, and the corrupting charge is a second-degree felony. Allen also was indicted for trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound, a fourth-degree felony, and possessing criminal tools, a fifth-degree offense. He refused a plea offer in July.
Credit: Sentinel Tribune