- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
St. Mary’s grand jurors charged a Leonardtown woman on Wednesday with second-degree murder following a police investigation earlier this year of a man’s drug overdose death, discovered when his body was delivered to a hospital.
Lena Michelle King, 20, also was indicted through the investigation by St. Mary’s narcotics detectives on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, distributing heroin and morphine, and administering both drugs on Jan. 7 to John Cleveland Jr.
King brought Cleveland, a boyfriend, to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital that morning, according to police reports which state that she initially told the hospital’s staff that she found Cleveland in his sport-utility vehicle at the Leonardtown wharf. Police later received information that Cleveland had been at an apartment on Lawrence Avenue, where King and two other people were spotted carrying Cleveland outside and toward the vehicle.
The day before Cleveland’s death, morphine delivered to a residence was injected into his left hand, and after a trip to Annapolis that afternoon, heroin also was injected into his hand at the residence, according to St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz (R).
“He started nodding out,” the prosecutor said Wednesday at his office in the county courthouse. “When they delivered him to the hospital, he was already dead.”
A man accompanying King and Cleveland has not been charged, Fritz said, and “at this point, he probably will be a witness.” The prosecutor said that drug charges may be filed against one or more additional suspects.
Other drug overdose cases, including one last year at a parking lot in Charlotte Hall, are still being investigated for possible criminal charges, the prosecutor said, but in many incidents, “we can’t put together where they got the drugs from, or who they got the drugs from,” as opposed to a “clear-cut case of someone injecting them with the drug.”
This week’s indictment underscores the danger, the prosecutor said, of people transitioning from the oral consumption of opiate pills to becoming first-time intravenous drug users.
“So what happens is someone shows them [how], ... and then he dies,” Fritz said. “This case stands on its own, but it’s an excellent opportunity for us to let the community know that we consider opiate addiction very serious, and it will be treated as a very serious crime. They should seek counseling prior to the time that it gets to this level. By the time it gets to this level, there is very little that anyone can do for them.”