Complexities of convictions in fatal overdose cases

[anvplayer video=”5160336″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – An Albert Lea woman is set to enter a plea Monday after she was charged with contributing to her sister’s fatal overdose March 2022.

This is just one of many cases in southeast Minnesota in which the sale of the deadly drug fentanyl killed the user.

According to Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson, these types of cases and investigations are more complex than ever before.

He says when it comes to the criminal cases, it can be difficult to prove who sold them the drug, when it happened, and that the drug was the ultimate cause of death in many of these victims.

In the case of the Albert Lea woman, 50-year-old Jeanne Penhollow, she faces multiple charges including 3rd degree murder for the sale and distribution of a controlled substance.

RELATED: Albert Lea woman to enter plea in alleged drug sale that led to sister’s death

Down the road in Austin, 43-year-old Yashica Thomas is being sentenced for two charges including 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter related to fentanyl sales, after she sold a man drugs that killed him last March. Recently, it was revealed she sold other drugs that resulted in overdose deaths as well.

RELATED: Austin woman pleads guilty to murder in drug sale deaths

While cases like these seem cut and dry, officials say they are just the opposite.

“You have to just put all those pieces together of the testimony from the witnesses, the forensic evidence, from the medical examiner and even the forensic evidence you find at the scene,” explained County Attorney Brett Corson. “Every case is gonna be different and it’s just putting those pieces together.”

Corson also says that it is up to more than just law enforcement and prosecutors to take a deadly problem like overdoses. It takes everybody in the community, including public health officials, addiction counselors, and many more, to bring about real change.