Woman convicted in death, defense attorney says overdose epidemic is ‘self-correcting problem’

Credit: MARK GOKAVI/Staff

Credit: MARK GOKAVI/Staff

Drug dealers are being prosecuted in fatal overdose cases in Southwest Ohio.

The most recent conviction happened Monday when a Dayton woman pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six years in prison. Investigators said the defendant admitted to selling a combination of fentanyl and heroin to a 45-year-old Xenia man who died of an overdose.

As fatal overdoses started stretching county resources across the state a few years ago, prosecutors around the state received training and direction from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, according to Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller.

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Haller recalled that the overall directive was to help users get into recovery and prosecute those who are taking advantage of them.

“We have not always charged the person that provided the drug that killed the user. We look at the particular facts. If we think there are enough aggravated circumstances, then we will charge in a homicide,” Haller said.

Senora Hensley, 52, who had been incarcerated since her arrest May 3, accepted a plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office on Monday in Greene County Common Pleas Court.

Hensley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and two counts of trafficking in heroin, court officials said.

Other charges, including corrupting another with drugs, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

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Judge Stephen Wolaver sentenced Hensley to serve six years in prison, officials said.

Hensley’s attorney Patrick Mulligan said the case presents a larger question that needs answered.

“How is it in the 21st century that we have come to the point that the person, the individual, has no responsibility for what it is that they do?” Mulligan said in a phone interview. “Why is every overdose the fault of the pharmaceutical manufacturers? Why is it the fault of the dealer? … This is a self-correcting problem if left on its own.”

Haller said his office’s emphasis is to get help for addicts. For dealers, particularly those that are pushing “poison” and killing people, they will be prosecuted.

Hensley was arrested two days after Xenia police responded May 1 to a fatal overdose on Prugh Avenue. The victim, 45-year-old Mark Cantrell, died of an accidental overdose, according to the Greene County Coroner’s Office.

Haller said the fatal dose was a mix of fentanyl and heroin, and the defendant Hensley may not have known there was any fentanyl present in the doses she was selling.

“There’s no quality control,” Haller said.

Police retrieved Cantrell’s phone records, and Hensley was the last person he had called prior to the fatal overdose, according to court records.

The early afternoon call between the fatal victim and Hensley lasted for 16 seconds, according to court records.

An undercover officer texted Hensley from the victim’s phone and asked for $50 worth of heroin and asked if it was “same good (stuff) as Tuesday,” to which she answered “Ya same,” according to court records.

The undercover officer made arrangements with Hensley to meet her at the Site Food Mart gas station in Beavercreek, and members of the Greene County ACE Task Force made the arrest during the illicit transaction, according to court records.

Hensley was hiding the heroin in her bra and after her arrest, she told officers that she sells heroin to pay bills and had sold heroin three or four times to Cantrell prior to his death, according to court records.

Hensley later admitted that she sold Cantrell $40 worth of heroin in the McDonald’s parking lot at Airway Road and Woodman Drive on the day he died.

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Haller said Cantrell’s fiance addressed the court on Monday, stating that Cantrell had been in recovery, was doing better and she didn’t know he was using again.

“(Hensley) was in it for the money. She was a dealer. We prosecuted her for manslaughter because she caused the death of this guy who was in recovery,” Haller said.

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