Man charged with drug crimes working toward recovery

A Kenai man accused of manslaughter and several charges of misconduct involving controlled substances is working toward recovery, according to his legal counsel.

Richard Paul Morrison, 38, was arrested in June and charged with a count of manslaughter and counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance in the second and fourth degrees for manufacturing or delivering and possession. He had originally been charged with 15 counts ranging from misconduct involving controlled substances to reckless endangerment in January 2016 following a Kenai-area methamphetamine investigation and bust by Soldotna-area Alaska State Troopers patrol officers and the Soldotna section of the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit, an Alaska State Troopers branch.

The manslaughter charge followed as a result of troopers investigating the death of 37-year-old Soldotna resident Jeremy Vandever, who died unexpectedly, according to an online trooper dispatch. The troopers began their investigation of his death on Dec. 30, 2015. Morrison was arrested and charged “for distributing the controlled substance to Vandever, which directly resulted in Vandever’s death,” troopers wrote in the dispatch.

Morrison had an omnibus hearing scheduled in Kenai Superior Court on Tuesday but was not able to appear because he is currently enrolled in a treatment program offered through the Salvation Army, public defenders said. Another omnibus hearing was set for Jan. 24.

Kenai Superior Court Judge Anna Moran granted permission for Morrison to appear at the next hearing over the phone, should he still be in the program at that time.

Investigator Christopher Jaime wrote in an affidavit about the January drug charges that troopers were “approached by an individual who wanted to work as a confidential informant to purchase drugs.”

Sgt. Robert Hunter oversees the Soldotna section of the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit, and said in June that the drug investigation using a confidential informant and the investigation of Vandever’s death were done in tandem, and tied Morrison to multiple acts of selling drugs.

“Basically during the death investigation, we were able to develop an informant to work the drug aspect of the case,” Hunter told the Clarion in June. “We were basically able to show that we had an individual that was selling controlled substances, and through the sales of controlled substances, resulted in the death of a person.”

Manslaughter through a controlled substance is a class A felony, according to online court records for Morrison, and class A felonies are punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River dipnetting closed; Kasilof to close Sunday

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery is reportedly slow, but fish are being caught

Silver salmon hang in the Seward Boat Harbor during the 2018 Seward Silver Salmon Derby. (Photo courtesy of Seward Chamber of Commerce)
Seward Silver Salmon derby runs Aug. 13-21

Last year’s derby featured 1,800 contestants competing across eight days

Rayna Reynolds tends to her cow at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Animals take the stage at 4-H expo

Contestants were judged on the quality of the animal or showmanship of the handler

Emily Matthews and Andy Kowalczyk pose outside the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies headquarters on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Charlie Menke/Homer News)
AmeriCorps volunteers aid Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

The 10-month commitment pushed them outside of comfort zones

People gather in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, for Salmonfest, an annual event that raises awareness about salmon-related causes. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
All about the salmon

Fish, love and music return to Ninilchik

Alaska State Veterinarian Dr. Bob Gerlach gives a presentation on Avian Influenza Virus at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
State looks to outreach, education amid bird flu outbreak

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is spreading in Alaska

Fencing surrounds the 4th Avenue Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. Demolition will begin in August 2022 on the once-opulent downtown Anchorage movie theater designed by the architect of Hollywood’s famed Pantages Theatre. The 4th Avenue Theatre with nearly 1,000 seats opened in 1947, and it withstood the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Efforts fail to save historic Anchorage theater from demolition

Anchorage entrepreneur Austin “Cap” Lathrop opened the 4th Avenue Theatre, with nearly 1,000 seats, on May 31, 1947

Mimi Israelah, center, cheers for Donald Trump inside the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska, during a rally Saturday July 9, 2022. Two Anchorage police officers violated department policy during a traffic stop last month when Israelah, in town for a rally by former President Donald Trump showed a “white privilege card” instead of a driver’s license and was not ticketed. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Alaska officers violated policy in ‘white privilege’ stop

The top of the novelty card reads: “White Privilege Card Trumps Everything.”

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion file 
Alaska LNG Project Manager Brad Chastain presents information about the project during a luncheon at the Kenai Chamber Commerce and Visitor Center on July 6.
Local leaders voice support for LNG project

Local municipalities are making their support for the Alaska LNG Project known

Most Read