After waiving arraignment earlier this week, four Douglas County residents are headed for trial. They are accused of involuntary manslaughter in the case of a young man who died of a heroin overdose. He was found alone in an enclosure that surrounded a store dumpster. He might have lived if his friends were not so afraid of getting involved.
Kaleigh Denig, 21, Zachary Shipp, 22, and Michael Topper Duffy, 24 were partying with heroin when Duffy overdosed on May 26, 2013, according to Douglas County authorities. They were in the home of Denig’s mother, Robin. When told that Duffy appeared to be overdosing, court documents show Robin, 50, refused to allow the others to call an ambulance. Instead, she is accused of calling her coworker at the Dollar General Store on Central Church Road, Garry Stimphil.
“They made the decision to secret his body away,” said Chief Assistant District Attorney Brian Fortner.
Duffy’s body was found near the trash dumpster at the Dollar General store.
It is one of at least two cases pending in Douglas County where people are charged with hiding drug overdose victims, or dumping them at hospitals and fleeing. Christopher Goddard, 26, is free on bond after being charged with obstruction after Douglasville Police said he dumped an overdosing woman at WellStar Douglas Hospital May 8, 2013.
A new bill offering amnesty for overdose victims or those who help them under was passed by the Georgia Legislature during the last session, and is now awaiting Governor Nathan Deal’s signature. It would bar law officers from making drug, or certain alcohol-related arrests, based on calls for emergency medical help, so long as the amount of drugs involved is small.
Amnesty would be given to drug overdose victims or those who call for help on their behalf, but would not bar prosecution of anyone resulting from other investigations.