Two women being charged with involuntary manslaughter in separate cases were indicted again on those charges Tuesday after previous indictments were dismissed for technical reasons.
Tracey O’Cull, 40, and Brittany Wallace, 29, both of Hillsboro, were indicted again by the Highland County Grand Jury for involuntary manslaughter, as well as additional drug-related charges.
In both cases, the women are accused of causing the death of another person because they allegedly supplied the drugs that led to the fatalities. The charges brought by county prosecutor Anneka Collins are the first of their kind in Highland County.
The indictment against O’Cull, who is currently serving a prison sentence for separate heroin trafficking charges, states that she “did cause the death of Benjamin Hahn as a proximate result of Tracey O’Cull committing or attempting to commit a felony.” O’Cull was also indicted for corrupting another with drugs.
Wallace is being charged with causing the death of Ashley Ronsheim by selling her heroin last September. She was also indicted for corrupting another with drugs and trafficking in drugs.
As previously reported, the involuntary manslaughter charges are precedent setting, with Collins asserting that a dangerous mix of drug cocktails led to fatal results.
“It’s not just a situation where people are using too much of something and dying,” Collins said. “Typically, overdoses happen because they’re buying what they think is one thing, but it turns out to be something else. When we see overdoses in Highland County, they’re often Fentanyl-related overdoses. A person goes to buy heroin, and what they get is a heroin and Fentanyl mixture.”
Defense attorney Lee Koogler, who represents Wallace, told The Times-Gazette last month that he disagrees with the involuntary manslaughter charge against his client because there is “some measure of accountability to the individual” who took the drugs. “My client did not stick the needle in her arm,” he said. O’Cull is represented by attorney Susan Zurface.
Also indicted Tuesday was Richard Hillard, 47, Winchester, for aggravated burglary and felonious assault. In January, Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera reported that deputies responded to a residence on Juniper Trail after a report that a male subject later identified as Hillard was brandishing a knife and had kicked in the front door of the residence, entering the home.
According to the sheriff, Hillard and the homeowner got into an altercation and the knife was taken from the HIllard. Hillard was escorted out of the residence, but then went to the back door of the home, kicked the back door in, and gained entry into the home again, according to the sheriff. Hillard reportedly picked up a knife from inside the home and got into another altercation with the homeowner.
When deputies arrived at the scene, Hillard was standing in the doorway of the home and was taken into custody without incident, according to the sheriff.
Other indictments Tuesday included:
• Keith D. Mick, 28, Chillicothe, possession of heroin.
• Dustin Greene, 26, Greenfield, receiving stolen property.
• David A.A. Flemings, 23, Dayton, breaking and entering.
• Cynthia Bray, 55, Lynchburg, aggravated possession of methamphetamine.
• William C. Blake, 50, Dayton, possession of heroin.
• Bret R. Ledford, 35, Clarksville, aggravated possession of methamphetamine, possession of heroin.
• Kenneth Dunaway, 44, Hillsboro, aggravated possession of methamphetamine.
• Larry Newland, 41, Columbus, breaking and entering, theft.
• John Blair Jr., 38, Hillsboro, failure to register a change of address as a registered sex offender.
• Debbenair M. Noble, 19, Hillsboro, receiving stolen property.
• Christopher Greene Jr., 21, Hillsboro, receiving stolen property.
• Andy Munyon, 34, Greenfield, failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, receiving stolen property.
• Richard Penn, 43, Leesburg, failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, receiving stolen property.