LEBANON, Ohio – The punishment for the first involuntary manslaughter drug conviction in Warren County should send a strong message to dealers, the prosecutor said Wednesday.
Austin Wells, 26, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for providing the drugs that killed his friend, Ryan Patrick, exactly one year ago on Jan. 20, 2015.
“Today’s sentence does not bring back Mr. Patrick, but it does send a message to anyone who would consider dealing drugs in Warren County that they will be held responsible for the damage caused by the poison they are sending out into our community,” Prosecutor David Fornshell said in a statement.
Wells was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and corrupting another with drugs last month. Wells thought he was giving heroin to Patrick but it turned out to be fentanyl and cocaine, toxicology reports revealed.
Patrick's mother and sister said they agreed with the sentence and criticized Wells for not trying to save Patrick after he overdosed.
"My son is dead because of this - my only son - and today's actually the day he died on, a year ago," Patrick's mother, Tracey Miller, told WCPO after sentencing.
Wells told the judge he is "not a monster" and Miller agreed.
"He's been around our family for years, so it does make it a little complicated because of that. He is a friend of our family," Miller said. " ... But I think he thinks when he gives heroin to somebody they're on their own."
"If the roles were turned about and my brother gave it to Austin and Austin died, I think my brother would have tried to save him and tried to revive him and would have called 911," Patrick's sister, Shannon Patrick, said. "Austin didn't call 911 and didn't try to revive him."
Instead, prosecutors said Miller did everything he could to clean up the scene.
Warren County has about four times as many people die from drug overdoses, usually heroin or fentanyl, than traffic crashes, according to Fornshell.