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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Tulsa man has been charged with murder in the overdose death of a 19-year-old woman who bought heroin from him, according to authorities.

Taylor Ryan Rogers, 29, was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the death of Jillian Searle, who died of an overdose after being found unconscious in her home on March 21, the Tulsa World reported.

Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney Erik Grayless said his office has decided to charge drug dealers with murder in overdose deaths for a “sense of justice.” He said many people believe premeditation is required for a first-degree murder charge, but that the charge can also apply when someone else dies as a result of a felony they committed.

Grayless said first-degree murder charges are rare in such instances, but his office intends for that to change.

“Too often, we’ve talked with drug dealers and investigated drug dealers and looked at them only as people who sell drugs,” said Grayless. “But if your drugs produce the death of another, we’re not going to call you a drug dealer anymore. We’re going to call you a murderer.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said he hopes new efforts to charge drug dealers with murder will prevent more tragic incidents.

“I hope this first-degree murder charge sends a clear message to drug dealers who sell poison to the men, women and children of Oklahoma,” Hunter said. “We in law enforcement are coming after you to hold you accountable for the anguish and suffering that you are inflicting on Oklahomans.”

Rogers has been held at the Tulsa County jail since last month following his arrest in a separate burglary case. He’s due in court Friday.


Information from: Tulsa World,