LIMA — A charge of involuntary manslaughter against a Lima man for providing drugs to a man who later died of an overdose was dismissed Monday morning in Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Derek Kitchen, 27, instead entered a plea of guilty to a single fifth-degree felony charge of trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound. A charge of trafficking in cocaine, a fifth-degree felony, was also dismissed.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Miller said the drastic reduction in charges against Kitchen came after medical examiners were unable to determine the cause of death of 26-year-old Shawn Hutchinson, whose lifeless body was discovered Sept. 6, 2018, at The Mission, a homeless shelter located at 216 E. Wayne St., Lima.
Kitchen and Lima resident Andrea Croft, 26, were each charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Hutchinson’s death, but Miller said the reduction in charges against Kitchen came “after considerable converations with the toxicologist” at the Lucas County Coroner’s Office and was an appropriate resolution to the case “due to the inability of the toxicologist to determine (Hutchinson’s) cause of death.”
Miller said medical examiners found a non-lethal amount of fentanyl in Hutchinson’s body during a post-mortem examination, in addition to near-lethal amounts of alcohol and combinations of other narcotics.
According to court records, Hutchinson was found deceased on his bed with a hypodermic needle in his right hand. But defense attorney Kenneth Rexford on Monday said the toxicology report showed the needle contained methamphetamines, not fentanyl.
Croft will be sentenced next week after pleading guilty to corrupting another with drugs, a second-degree felony, which carries a prison term of two to eight years. Rexford said the woman “provided the needle” to Hutchinson shortly before his death. Croft told police she had purchased the drugs from Kitchen and that he had furnished the hypodermic needle as well.
Judge Jeffrey Reed ordered a pre-sentence investigation be compiled and set sentencing for Kitchen on Sept. 30. The Lima man faces a maximum of 12 months in prison but is expected to be sentenced to probation or some type of community control.