A man dropped off five laced pills for a 15-year-old, whose younger brother and grandmother found him dead in his bedroom the next morning in California, federal prosecutors said.
The high school freshman believed the pills were pharmaceutical grade Percocet pills, a brand of medication containing oxycodone, an opioid, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
However, Alexander Declan Bell Wilson, 23, of Rolling Hills gave the teen pills laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl in May 2020, prosecutors said.
After the teen consumed the pills, Wilson mocked him online as he was overdosing in the early hours of May 15, 2020, prosecutors said.
“As (the teen) ... was slowly dying and losing consciousness, (Wilson) bullied and mocked him in text messages,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
In those messages that were exchanged for nearly four hours, Wilson “chastised” the teen for chewing the pills — then shared their conversation to Snapchat for his followers to see, according to prosecutors.
Later that morning, the boy’s grandmother and his 13-year-old brother found him “lifeless” in bed, prosecutors said.
“After (his) death, (Wilson) showed no remorse for his crimes,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing memo “To the contrary, he lied to police about his conduct, deleted incriminating evidence from his phone, and minimized his role in the offense.
Indeed, (Wilson) blamed (the victim) for his own death, boasting that (the victim) ‘did that to himself.’”
On Dec. 1, a judge sentenced Wilson to 20 years in prison on a charge of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, the attorney’s office announced in a news release.
Wilson was convicted of the charge on May 19 after a five-day trial, the release said.
Caleb Mason, one of Wilson’s defense attorneys, told McClatchy News in a statement on Dec. 4 that they plan to appeal Wilson’s conviction.
“We presented a strong factual defense contesting our client’s guilt, based on forensic evidence, toxicology, and contemporaneous communications,” Mason added.
According to prosecutors, Wilson agreed to deliver five Percocet pills and gave them to the boy’s 13-year-old brother, who then gave them to the teen inside their home.
At trial, an expert testified that the teen’s death “was caused solely due to fentanyl poisoning,” prosecutors said.
In court, the boy’s grandmother said that the teen’s two brothers continue to struggle with his death, according to the Daily Breeze newspaper.
“People say as time goes on it will get easier for us,” she said, the newspaper reported. “That’s not true. Losing a child is the hardest heartbreak anyone can experience. It feels like someone not only tore your heart apart but took part of it with them.”
Wilson also spoke out in court and apologized to the teen’s family, according to the Daily Breeze.
“I am forever ashamed and regret every bad decision I ever made,” he added. “Even during the trial, I really wish I could have just been able to tell you I’m sorry.”
In their sentencing memo, prosecutors wrote Wilson had a violent history during his youth, including being involved in the beating of an autistic high school student.
Wilson, who is the son of former Rolling Hills Mayor Patrick Wilson, and another individual were charged in connection with the beating of an 18-year-old autistic man in March 2019, CBS Los Angeles reported.
As part of Wilson’s sentencing in the federal case, he must pay $2,364 in restitution, prosecutors said.
His prison sentence will be followed by 12 years of supervised release, according to prosecutors.
In commenting on his client’s sentencing, Mason said “the widespread availability of fentanyl is a national crisis.”
Fentanyl is estimated to be 100 times stronger than morphine and a “major contributor” to overdoses in the U.S., according to the CDC.
“Every one of these cases is a tragedy,” Mason added. “As a society, we need to come to grips with the consequences of the demand for and easy availability of narcotics. This means addressing importation of precursors, illicit manufacturing and distribution, and all of the factors contributing to addiction.”
The U.S. opioid crisis
Overdoses are a leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The majority of overdose deaths involve opioids. Deaths involving synthetic opioids (largely illicitly made fentanyl) and stimulants (such as cocaine and methamphetamine) have increased in recent years,” the CDC said. “For every drug overdose that results in death, there are many more nonfatal overdoses, each one with its own emotional and economic toll.”
Millions of people in the U.S. have an opioid addiction, according to the CDC. Addiction is a “chronic and relapsing disease that can affect anyone.”
Rolling Hills is about 25 miles southwest of Los Angeles.