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Baton Rouge man to face murder charge in drug overdose

The typical charges for Baton Rouge residents arrested in connection with illegal drugs are drug possession, drug trafficking, drug manufacturing and intent to distribute. An unusual recent case presents another charge that may be filed, murder.

A 24-year-old man faces a charge of second-degree murder after police said he gave a fatal dose of heroin to his 19-year-old girlfriend. Authorities said the drug, which was rare in Baton Rouge in recent years, has started to become more common. Authorities also say the drug is more powerful than it was in the past, potentially leading to more overdoses.

Baton Rouge police said they have seized nearly 200 grams of heroin so far this year. In all of last year, they seized less than 100 grams of the drug. Police in different Louisiana parishes have recently announced several high-profile arrests that they described as breakups of heroin rings.

Authorities said one cause for heroin's resurgence in popularity is that frequently abused painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin have become harder to find as police crackdowns on those drugs take a toll on the supply. The penalty for distribution of heroin in Louisiana had been life in prison, but lawmakers reduced that in 2001 to between 5 and 50 years.

While murder charges are rare in cases of drug overdoses, they are not unheard of in Louisiana. Murder charges were filed in drug overdose deaths in East Baton Rouge in 2001 and 2002, although both cases ended with the accused being convicted on lesser charges.

Even without murder charges, drug charges in Louisiana carry serious consequences. It is crucial for those accused of drug crimes to get help building a strong defense.

Source: The Advocate, "Baton Rouge homicide case highlights heroin resurgence," Ryan Broussard and Jim Mustian, Aug. 31, 2013