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A 33-year-old Bedford man pleaded guilty last week to providing the drugs that led to the death of another Bedford man.
Jason Carroll Mann, 33, had been accused of supplying the fatal dosage to Matthew Stewart Hamilton in February 2010, and had been facing a second-degree murder charge against him. But last Tuesday, Mann pleaded guilty to distributing methadone and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the case. He received a 10-year sentence, with seven of those years suspended.
After serving his three years, he will be placed on five years of supervised probation.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Krantz said that evidence showed that while the methadone was the cause of Hamilton’s death, it still was within the therapeutic range.
“He accepted responsibility for distributing the drug and causing the death,” Krantz said. “We couldn’t guarantee we would have gotten a conviction so we accepted the lesser plea and still held him accountable.”
Krantz has gotten murder convictions in other cases concerning a death being caused by someone distributing methadone that led to a death because of a drug overdose. In 2007 Nicholas Todd Russell received an 18 year sentence for felony murder and methadone distribution in connection with the 2003 death of 19-year-old Tyler Jay Hawley.
Also in connection with that case, Virginia Anne Wertz received an 11-year sentence after being convicted of felony murder and conspiracy to sell methadone.
Krantz said the difference in the cases was proving the causation in Hamilton’s death. “In other cases it has been more clear that the methadone was outside of the therapeutic range,” he said. “That could have created a reasonable doubt.”
But he added that the conviction furthers the fact that those who distribute drugs in the county will be held responsible if it leads to someone’s death.