One may question the definition of fault. Fault may be defined as the responsibility for an accident or misfortune. Could it be a persons “fault” for giving another person drugs which is later part of the cause in death. Who possess the fault then? The giver or the self-ingesting person.
On April 14, 2010, Marcus Burrage became at fault for the distribution of heroine to Joshua Banka. This would not be out of ordinary fault if there weren’t a death involved. Banka was found dead the next day. The cause of death was due to a drug mixture of heroine and ace.
A jury convicted the defendant Marcus Burrage of distribution of an illegal substance (heroin) and, distribution of heroin resulting in the death of Joshua Banka. On April 14, 2010, Burrage sold heroin to Joshua Banka, who used the heroin along with a mixture of a number of other drugs, Banka was found dead the next day. The jury convicted Burrage of distribution of heroin causing death under 21 U.S.C. 841. After being examined by a forensic toxicologist from the State Medical Examiner's Office, it was concluded that the heroin did indeed "contribute" to Banka's death. However, it was undetermined by both the doctor and toxicologist whether or not Banka would have died if he had not taken the heroin. Among the heroin other drugs were found in Banka's system. Banka mixed a number of drugs and consumed them. The heroin played a small part of a larger mixed drug consumption Which is why i believe this case should be ruled death by overdose. Banka's death as part of a larger mixed drug intoxication was not sufficient enough to show that it resulted from heroin.
Although it was not confirmed or proven what the exact cause of death was a jury convicted Burrage of distribution of heroin, and distribution of heroin resulting in death, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed and Burrage was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Unbelieving of all the acquisitions against him, Burrage Filed an appeal based on the argument that a death ruling that "resulted" from heroin must require the prosecution to admit an "approximate cause". Burrage appealed the decision and it was argued that the judge allowed "inadmissible hearsay into evidence". Burrage's motion for acquittal and his motion for a new trial based on "prosecutorial misconduct" and "erroneous jury instructions" were denied. Although the heroin did in fact contribute to Banka's death it was not determined to be the approximate "cause" of death.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision on all counts. Upon entering the appeals it was decided that the evidence admited that was being called "inadmissible hearsay" was sufficient enough to convict Burrage of the crime at hand. The court also made point that the experts indeed did present an adequate testimony that Banka would not have died were it not for the heroin in his system. The testimony of the officer was admitted and not classified as inadmissible hearsay...