Associated Press Reported on July 24, 2001 that Robert Stallard, 43, faces
up to 81 years in prison for what is believed to be the first murder
charge related to OxyContin, the powerful painkiller blamed for dozens of
fatal overdoses across the country. Stallard pleaded guilty Monday
to murder, drug distribution and unlawful disposal of a human body.
"All I can do is pray and hope for the
best," Stallard said before being led back to jail.
Nicholas Dickerson, 40, died after coming
to Stallard's apartment last September in search of the prescription
painkiller. Stallard admitted he injected OxyContin into the arm of his
partially paralyzed friend.
Stallard later found his friend dead,
panicked and dragged the body outside before calling 911, police said.
Authorities decided that selling Dickerson
the drug and helping him inject it was tantamount to shooting him with a
gun. Defense attorney Penny Nimmo said there was no malice involved and
she would seek to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter before next
"Nick asked to be injected and he got
what he asked for," Nimmo said. "It wasn't as if it was an
innocent person who got held down and injected with drugs."
Gregg Wood, a health care fraud
investigator for the U.S. attorney's office who monitors OxyContin-related
crimes nationwide, said he knows of no other murder charges resulting from
an OxyContin overdose.
OxyContin is a slow-release narcotic that
is widely prescribed for moderate to severe chronic pain resulting from
such problems as arthritis, back trouble and cancer. One pill is designed
to last 12 hours, but those who abuse OxyContin usually crush the medicine
and then snort or inject it, producing a quick, heroin-like high.
The federally approved drug has been linked
to at least 120 overdose deaths nationwide. In May, drugmaker Purdue
Pharma suspended shipments of its largest dose, the 160-milligram tablet,
and took steps to make people aware of dangers linked to the drug.
Dickerson's brother, Larry, said he hoped
the defendant died behind bars.
"Robert's got a life ahead of him.
Robert has his wife and children," he said. "Nick has none of
this. The only thing we've got of Nick is memories."