April 18, 2019 5th DCA Upholds Ruling in TORO Distribution of Fentanyl Murder

On Tuesday (Apr 16) the Fifth District Court of Appeals issued its opinion affirming the April 2018 decision of Judge Nelson to dismiss the offense of First Degree Murder Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance against Christopher TORO (31). TORO had been charged in connection with the September 23, 2017 death of Alfonso Pagan, 32 of Winter Springs who died from a Heroin and Fentanyl overdose.

The primary issue in the appeal heard by the Court was whether fentanyl constitutes a "synthetic of opium" pursuant to Fla. Stat. s. 782.04(1)(a)3 thus allowing our office to charge First Degree Felony Murder - Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance, in cases that occurred prior to October 1, 2017.  For offenses occurring after that date, the question was resolved when the Florida Legislature modified the statue to specifically include the distribution of fentanyl to the victim, and the fentanyl was the proximate cause of the victim's death.

The decision by the 5th DCA effectively ends the prosecution of TORO for First Degree Murder. We expect the Court to make a similar finding in the four Seminole County prosecutions that were appealed on the same basis. Those cases are State vs. Tamas Harris Jr; State vs. Jamie Nelson; State vs. Tyron Bradshaw and State vs. Timothy Wilson Jr.

In the coming weeks our office will be carefully reviewing each of the five cases in light of this ruling, prior to announcing any final disposition or action.



Todd Brown
Public Information &
Social Media
Office of the State Attorney
18th Judicial Circuit
2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way
Building D
Viera, Fl. 32940
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