Tag Archive for: overdose

Photo of hand pouring blue pills from a small zip lock bag.

Murder Charges in Fentanyl Overdose Death

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announced today that two individuals have been charged with murder in connection with the fentanyl overdose death of 31-year-old Connor Gerhart. Defendants Sheri Cavanaugh, 59, and her co-conspirator, Micah Seau,31, are both charged with murder and conspiracy to commit a crime. The pair conspired to sell the victim fentanyl pills which resulted in his overdose death.

“These defendants were aware of the dangers of the illegal drugs they were selling and in a callous indifference to the victim’s overdose death, conspired to continue dealing this poison in our communities,” said DA Stephan. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to hold individuals accountable for murder in cases like this and work to deliver justice for Connor’s family and loved ones.”

On June 2, 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Overdose Response Team responded to the scene of the overdose and immediately commenced an investigation. During their investigation, they established that Seau and Gerhardt were longtime friends and that Cavanaugh and Seau were longtime associates dealing illegal narcotics. The investigation further showed that on May 31, 2023, Seau purchased at least $1,200 worth of fentanyl pills from co-defendant Cavanaugh in La Mesa. Thereafter, Seau invited the victim to pick up his pills and charged him $700. Mr. Gerhart picked up the pills, took some of them, and died on the evening of June 1. He was found in his home by a family friend. In the days following Gerhart’s death, Seau and Cavanaugh continued to be in contact regarding Seau purchasing more narcotics.

“Connor Gerhart is gone too soon,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony Chrysanthis. “His life was stolen by careless drug dealers who chose money over life. Removing those who sell fake pills and endanger the community is one of the top priorities for the DEA.”

Seau and Cavanaugh were both arrested without incident on May 31 at their homes. They were arraigned this Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court and pleaded not guilty. A readiness hearing was set for June 12. If convicted of all the charges, each defendant faces up to 15 years-to-life in state prison.

“Fentanyl continues to fatally plague our communities, said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “The impacts we see from Fentanyl sales is overwhelming and destructive, prematurely ending the lives of those struggling with addiction every day.” “The San Diego Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Narcotics Task Force, in coordination with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office have dedicated significant resources to identify and aggressively prosecute those individuals responsible for the sales of these drugs, especially when such action causes death. This case is a result of the hard work and dedication of investigators to bring those responsible to justice.”

Since 2017, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has charged eight fentanyl dealers with homicide stemming from selling or furnishing fentanyl-laced drugs.

In 2021 and 2022, there was an average of about 800 deaths in San Diego County  caused by fentanyl or analogs of fentanyl in each year. To put that in perspective, in 2021, San Diego County experienced 88 homicides caused by firearms. That same year, the county saw 814 deaths caused by fentanyl poisoning.

“Fentanyl killed more young people in our nation than any other cause last year,” DA Stephan said. When someone sells fentanyl, knowing how incredibly dangerous that drug is, and another person dies as a result of using that drug, that is murder.” said DA Stephan.

This case is being prosecuted by the DA’s Major Narcotics Division.

Here are five things we should all know about the dangers of Fentanyl.