Trial ahead in landmark drug case

The manslaughter case against a Marietta man charged with providing drugs that led to a fatal overdose is set to continue to trial after a Washington County judge declined a motion to dismiss last week.

Ryan Vogt, 27, of 1915 Silver Globe Road, Marietta is charged with involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, and one count of trafficking in drugs, a fifth-degree felony, and if convicted he could face up to 14 years in prison.

He was originally charged last year in connection with the death of Tyler Miller, 21, of Beverly, who overdosed on heroin in January 2016.

Law enforcement says Vogt allegedly sold the heroin which killed Miller.

The case was originally declared a mistrial in December because of a connection between Vogt and another of his attorney’s clients in West Virginia which was not brought to light until the second day of the trial.

Vogt’s attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, then filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds of double jeopardy in January.

Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth decided against the motion last week.

The Washington County case is the first of its kind in the area aligning the charge of involuntary manslaughter with the death of an addict.

In states across the country battling the death toll of opioid abuse, officials have turned to holding drug dealers responsible in some form for the death of their consumers.

“In most overdose cases you don’t really know who supplied the deadly drugs, but when the evidence is clear, how can you not hold that dealer responsible?” said Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings.

Charges of involuntary manslaughter have surged in Ohio, Maine, West Virginia and New Jersey as a means of justice for the lives lost to addiction and overdose.

“It occurs to me that people that sell drugs do it for a profit and for a form of control over people,” said Rings. “But that behavior benefits no one, and it’s no secret that that behavior leads to overdoses. So they ought to bear part of the responsibility of these deaths.”

Law enforcement in the area are constantly trying to track drugs infiltrating the valley.

“This is a statewide program that the Ohio Attorney General directed,” explained Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks. “On all overdoses we try and determine where the drugs came from and we do use a variety of cell phone programs and utilize an intelligence analyst to track how the drugs were purchased.”

Vogt was charged in connection with Miller’s death after text messages were allegedly found connecting the two in drug deals dating back to October 2015.

“There were a lot of text messages showing that’s how (Miller) got the drugs,” said Mincks.

Vogt will appear in Washington County Common Pleas Court for a final pretrial hearing on March 23 at 1:30 p.m.

The trial is scheduled to begin March 27 at 9 a.m.

What’s next

¯ Ryan Vogt, 27, of 1915 Silver Globe Road, Marietta, will appear in Washington County Common Pleas Court for a final pretrial hearing on March 23 at 1:30 p.m.

¯ His trial is scheduled to begin March 27 at 9 a.m.

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