Murder charges against an alleged drug dealer were reduced to reckless homicide this afternoon after the judge ruled there wasn’t enough evidence.
After an hour-long preliminary hearing in Clark District Court, 52-year-old Harold Salyers returned to jail facing a much lighter charge.
heroin to Wade Dickerson, Winchester Police Sgt. Tom Beall testified.
Dickerson died Aug. 8 in a Lexington hospital. The autopsy was performed two days later, but the toxicology results were recently released.
The question Salyers’ attorney raised was whether Salyers knew Dickerson was going to resell the drugs or use them himself, and whether Salyers could see the end result of selling the drugs.
“This was a drug deal where there was a sale of these drugs, not a use of these drugs,” defense attorney William Elkins argued.
There was no testimony concerning any specific plan for the use of the drugs.
“There’s nothing here to suggest he should’ve seen this coming,” Elkins said.
Police believe that Salyers was acting with ‘wanton disregard’ for human life by selling the drugs, and that he knew they were dangerous.
“Even if he didn’t intend to kill Mr. Dickerson, the fact he sold them... is enough to bind (the murder charge) to the grand jury,” Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas said. “The distinguishing factor in this case if the statement from the defendant that he sold the drugs and an unequivocal statement from the medical examiner.”
Beall said the medical examiner, Dr. Kristin Rolf, determined the cause of Dickerson’s death was a heroin overdose, and that he would be alive if he had not ingested the heroin.
Clark District judge Brandy Oliver Brown ruled there wasn’t enough proof to support the murder charge, even after Beall was recalled to offer additional testimony.
“I didn’t hear any evidence about foreseeability,” Brown said, and could not determine any intent for Dickerson’s death.
Brown found probable cause to support the reckless homicide charge and sent the case to the grand jury. Salyers had already waived a pending drug trafficking case to the grand jury, which stemmed from the same events.
For more, see Thursday’s Winchester Sun.
Contact Fred Petke at firstname.lastname@example.org.