COLUMBUS — If you deal to someone who dies you might be looking at prison time. The stern message by Franklin County's top prosecutor after the latest in a string of indictments of suspected heroin dealers.
Prosecutor Ron O'Brien says survivors are helping police track down the dealers and in some cases cell phones point investigators in the right direction.
Paris Hatton is the latest to be indicted on a involuntary manslaughter charge. She's in jail waiting to see a judge.
Hatton is accused of dealing heroin to a man who died after shooting up back in February.
"What we're doing is going after the traffickers," said O'Brien.
Hatton is the seventh suspected heroin-fentanyl-carfentanil dealer indicted this year in Franklin County.
Nine people have died from overdoses connected to the cases.
"The people that are selling drugs dealing drugs particularly if it includes fentanyl as part of the mix with the heroin that if it does cause someone's death that they are subject to prosecution for involuntary manslaughter," said O'Brien.
Hatton is accused of selling heroin to Lewis Jemison and another man February 10. According to the indictment, Jemison died one day after shooting up. The other man gave some to his wife. She overdosed but nalaxone saved her life.
O'Brien says survivors have been key.
"So she and other person who bought the drugs were able to be both saved but also be witnesses against the source of the drug," said O'Brien.
A user's last call or text message also help solve cases.
"If it's a fatality the cell phone becomes a key piece of evidence," said O'Brien.
Hatton's name is among a growing list of indictments.
Rayshon Alexander is also charged with manslaughter related to a deadly overdose.
Sara Eberhard is charged in a case where someone almost died.
Erica Barley is now serving five years in prison for last year's overdose death of her 14th month old daughter.
"I think it's the increased deaths that are occurring due to the heroin overdose epidemic as well as the willingness of law enforcement to investigate them and treat them like a crime scene and investigate like a homicide and see if there's sufficient evidence to proceed," said O'Brien.
O'Brien says instead of sending users and addicts to jail they're being pointed toward treatment.
Hatton will be arraigned Friday afternoon.