CINCINNATI - The driver of the car that struck and killed a Terrace Park teenager as he walked home will not face charges in the case. However, a man who allegedly sold drugs to Collin Barton before he died has been charged.
It's taken Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters nearly two months to complete the investigation into the death of 16-year-old Collin Barton.
Barton was walking home along Wooster Pike in Columbia Township in the early morning hours of March 18 when he was struck by a 2002 Honda Civic driven by a 23-year-old Milford man.
Deters on Wednesday announced that a Hamilton County grand jury indicted Andrew Weber, 20, of Indian Hill, on three counts of aggravated trafficking of drugs for allegedly selling psilocin (mushrooms) and one count of trafficking marijuana. Barton purchased the illegal mushrooms from Weber for approximately $80 before he died, according to Deters.
Weber is also accused of selling drugs to a juvenile on May 4 and May 5. He was arrested this past week for allegedly selling drugs to an informant, according to Deters. Authorities executed a search warrant and discovered marijuana that Weber allegedly prepared for distribution. He was arraigned and released from jail. However, a warrant has been issued for his arrest following Wednesday's indictment. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Investigators spoke with people who were at the party with Barton who said he did buy drugs from Weber, according to Deters.
Barton left the party and decided to walk the five miles home around 5 a.m. It was on that walk when he was fatally struck.
Deters said toxicology reports indicate that Barton had illegal mushrooms and marijuana in his system when he died. Barton was not acting the way he normally did when he left the party, according to Deters.
"Based on our information, Collin's behavior that night was not like him because of that ingestion," said Deters. "The simple fact of walking home at five in the morning is just a piece of it."
Deters commented, "Do I think that the ingestion of mushrooms was the proximate cause of Collin's death? No. However, because he was under the influence of the mushrooms that Weber sold to him, Collin took risks he otherwise might not have taken."
The Milford man who struck Barton went to police to report that he thought he hit a deer. Officers responded to the scene but were unable to locate anything.
Two days later, the driver went back to police again asking officers to search the area. The Terrace Park life squad was then dispatched to the scene. Life squad members later located the body of Barton.
Collin's father Sean Barton says his son told him he was going to a sleepover on Saturday night, but ended up at a house in Madison Place and tried to walk home after he and his girlfriend broke up.
"Hardest decision in this case was that of the driver," said Deters. "The reality is we may not know what happened that night. We don't know where Collin was walking. Cannot pinpoint that area. Could've been in the middle of the road."
Deters said from the facts investigators know, Barton was not walking on a sidewalk.
"The worst possible charge for this driver in this case was a misdemeanor, vehicular homicide," said Deters. "Based on the facts we have a defense attorney would kill us in trial."
Deters said the driver of the car that hit Barton was the designated driver that night and does not drink. He (the driver) was extremely tired and at some point probably "dozed off," according to Deters.
"The case against Weber is as good as you could ever have a case" said Deters. "I'm very confident we will convict him."
Sean Barton held a news conference after his son's death and urged teens to talk to their parents if they need help saying your life may depend on it.
Deters said this is a "wake up call to parents. You got to watch what your kids are doing. You've got to stay on top of them."