A Santa Barbara man will appear in Superior Court today for arraignment on murder and other charges connected to his allegedly providing fentanyl to another man who died after overdosing on the drug.
Defendant Dillon James Joseph Johnson, 34, had been scheduled to enter a plea to the charges against him on Tuesday. His arraignment was postponed to Thursday, but on Thursday, it was continued again to today.
“It got continued until tomorrow by the public defender so they can check for a conflict of interest,” District Attorney Joyce Dudley told the News-Press on Thursday.
Santa Barbara Police officers were dispatched to the 100 block of State Street on April 29 for a report of a found body. The deceased 30-year-old male, Mathew Justin Dyet, was discovered with narcotics and drug paraphernalia in his possession, police said.
“The cause of death was determined to be acute fentanyl intoxication,” Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale said.
Over the course of several months, Santa Barbara Police detectives and Santa Barbara County District Attorney investigators investigated this death.
Detectives learned during their investigation that Mr. Johnson was identified as the suspect who had distributed the decedent the fentanyl that caused his death.
A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge authorized a search warrant associated with this case. It is believed that Mr. Johnson directly supplied the deadly drug to the decedent that caused his death.
After months of investigation, Santa Barbara Police detectives served the warrant Sept. 1 and arrested Mr. Johnson in the 7100 block of Hollister Avenue, Goleta.
A search after his arrest revealed quantities of fentanyl and other narcotics that constitute possession with the intent to distribute, Sgt. Ragsdale said.
The suspect was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail for murder and numerous felony narcotic violations. His bail was set at $1 million.
Prosecutors charged the defendant with murder, claiming the fentanyl he allegedly provided Mr. Dyet caused his death sometime between April 28 and April 29. He also is charged with the transportation and/or sale of a controlled substance (fentanyl) during the same time period.
In addition, the defendant is charged with possession for sale of a controlled substance (fentanyl), sale and/or transport of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), and possession for sale of a controlled substance (fentanyl) in connection with his Sept. 1 arrest.
“Mr. Johnson is innocent unless and until he is proven guilty,” District Attorney Dudley said Thursday. “As to these charges, in general, when anyone knew or should have known that their actions could cause death to another the appropriate charge is murder.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Anthony S. Davis told the News-Press Thursday that there is another, similar homicide case that also was filed very recently.
That one, against co-defendants Jonathan Fleischer and Edward Wysel, stemmed from an OD death investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, he said.
“Both defendants are currently in custody, were arraigned in late August, and are set for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 7,” he said.
“As Joyce indicated, these are the first two cases of their kind filed locally, where individuals were charged with murder for providing drugs leading to someone’s death,” Deputy District Attorney Davis said. “Her comments, regarding innocence until proven guilty, as well as the appropriateness of charging anyone with murder under such circumstances, apply to all three charged defendants.”