MIAMI COUNTY — A West Milton man was sentenced to serve two years in prison for his role in the fatal overdose of a Concord Township man more than a year ago.
Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Gee sentenced Derek Gardner, 33, to serve 24 months for third-degree felony attempted corruption of another with drugs and 11 months to fifth-degree felony aggravated trafficking of narcotics. The sentences will run concurrently.
Public defense attorney Jack Hemm said Gardner was cooperative in the investigation regarding James Lennon’s death on Feb. 24, 2017. Gardner apologized to the family of the victim and spoke of his sobriety and drug treatment services he has received while he’s been incarcerated.
“I’ve lost friends to this disease — Lennon was one of them,” Gardner said. “I’ve definitely learned from my mistakes.”
Judge Gee said while Gardner had expressed a desire to change his life, sobriety in jail differs from “being out in the world.”
Gee noted Lennon lost their only son and Gardner had a role in spite of Lennon playing a part in his fentanyl overdose death.
“He is not around to reform and make a better life for himself,” Gee said. “You are breathing and walking around.”
He was granted 311 days of jail credit. He was ordered to pay half of the $9,508 funeral expenses to the Lennon family as restitution.
Gardner entered a plea of guilty to the charges as part of a plea agreement with the state to drop the first count of Gardner’s indictment, the charge of first-degree felony involuntary manslaughter. The involuntary manslaughter charge against Gardner is expected to be dropped after he is sentenced for attempted corruption of another with drugs and aggravated trafficking of narcotics.
James Lennon, 33, of Concord Twp., died of a fentanyl overdose on Feb. 24, 2017. Gardner and co-defendant Quincy Mattison, 28, of Dayton, were each indicted on first-degree felony involuntary manslaughter and fifth-degree felony aggravated trafficking of narcotics in connection with Lennon’s death in Miami County Common Pleas Court in late September. Detectives were able to identify and collect evidence on two suspects who trafficked the narcotics to Lennon. Detectives also recovered a small amount of fentanyl from the suspects. Mattison is scheduled to be sentenced on August 27. Mattison pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree felony attempted involuntary manslaughter and to fifth-degree felony aggravated trafficking of fentanyl.
It was the first time in the sheriff’s office’s history to charge a suspect with involuntary manslaughter related to the heroin and opiate epidemic. In recent years, the Piqua Police Department charged two people in similar cases, and both were successfully prosecuted by the Miami County Prosecutor’s Office.