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.


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