A California man who was charged with second-degree murder last month for allegedly providing a fatal dose of fentanyl to Christian Scott Ellis in 2018 was ordered to remain in the county detention center after his lawyer requested a bond review.
A St. Mary’s prosecutor said at a Tuesday morning status hearing that the state has delivered “minimally 95%” of evidence against Andrew Gordon Duncanson, 24, who is accused of causing Ellis’ death on May 5 of last year by providing him with fentanyl that killed him.
Duncanson is charged with second-degree “depraved heart” murder, which alleges that Duncanson killed Ellis by acting “with extreme disregard of the life endangering consequences” of the fentanyl, according to the indictment.
At the hearing, St. Mary’s Circuit Judge Michael J. Stamm refused a motion by Duncanson’s attorney, Hammad Matin, to review his bond.
“This was his best friend who died in May … and a fellow addict,” Matin said in court. “I want to make this very clear, this is not someone who is preying on addicts.”
In August of last year, Duncanson pleaded guilty to a drug possession charge that stemmed from a search warrant that was executed three days after Ellis’ death, and was sentenced to 30 days of active incarceration and three years of probation.
“Immediately after getting out of the detention center, he goes to inpatient treatment,” Matin said, adding that Duncanson also got hired by his former boss, who Matin said “knows the charges” and indicated that the “position is still open” if Duncanson is released.
“All of a sudden, 18 months later, he gets charged with some serious charges,” Matin said. Duncanson had “no new offenses, no new violations of probation” until he was indicted for second-degree murder last month, according to Matin.
Duncanson was also given a violation of probation on his May 2018 case for picking up these new charges, which allegedly occurred before that case.
“I would say that Mr. Duncanson is one of the most dangerous people in St. Mary’s County,” State’s Attorney Richard Fritz said in court.
Fritz (R) said the evidence submitted included telephone calls where Duncanson allegedly bragged about selling high-quality drugs in the county. “He then distributes to his best friend what he knows is very dangerous and could cause his death, and it in fact does,” the prosecutor said.
Fritz said that the 18-month period between Ellis’ death and Duncanson’s new charges was due to a Maryland Court of Appeals decision, filed in June of this year, which reaffirmed a Worcester County man’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter for selling heroin to a 23-year-old man who died of an overdose.
That case “says nothing about murder,” according to Matin, who said that the case only handled manslaughter.
Matin also said that Duncanson had been using the same product as Ellis.
“The Supreme Court has been very clear about what a judge is supposed to do during bond reviews,” Stamm said on Tuesday. He said that Duncanson’s maximum penalty could be over 100 years if convicted.
“I do find him to be a danger to the community, I also find him to be a flight risk,” Stamm said.
Duncanson is currently scheduled for a trial in December.