Granite City woman sentenced in drug homicide

News-DemocratJanuary 10, 2014 

— A Granite City woman who pleaded guilty to drug-induced homicide will serve up to 10 years in prison.

Debra Nelson, 42, had been charged with drug-induced homicide and possession with intent to deliver liquid methadone in the death of 19-year-old Dylan Hartman, whose body was found by a family member in his Granite City home in December 2012.

Nelson pleaded guilty to drug-induced homicide, a Class X felony. On Friday, Madison County Circuit Judge James Hackett sentenced her to 10 years.

The prosecution originally asked for 13 years, while the defense asked for a range of 6-10. Nelson must serve 75 percent of her 10-year sentence.

According to officials, Nelson sold the liquid methadone to David Deforest Jr., 23, of Granite City. Deforest then gave the drugs to Hartman, who died after taking the drugs.

Deforest's case is pending. At the moment, it is not planned for Nelson to testify against him, according to state's attorney spokeswoman Stephanee Smith.

The state's attorney's office also is prosecuting several other cases of drug-induced homicide.

Robert Kirchner, 41, was charged with drug-induced homicide in the death of Tony Sellers by heroin overdose. Sellers, 45, was found outside Kirchner's home on June 20, 2012.

In addition to the homicide charge, Kirchner has been charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, delivery of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, all Class 2 felonies. He is accused of buying the heroin in St. Louis and delivering it to Sellers in Granite City.

Three other people also were charged with concealing Sellers' homicidal death: Vindi Kirchner, the wife of Robert Kirchner; Janet Denson and Scott Bourbon, all from Granite City. They are accused of taking Sellers' body out of the house after his overdose and leaving it in the backyard.

All those cases are pending in Madison County Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, a trial is tentatively set next week for Angella Halliday, 29, of Moro, who is charged with aggravated battery. She is accused of injecting a 29-year-old woman with heroin. The woman overdosed, but survived. According to the state's attorney's office, the two women purchased the heroin in St. Louis before returning to Wood River to inject the drug.

Halliday was on parole at the time for a previous conviction on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school. The aggravated battery charge is a Class 1 felony with a maximum penalty of four to 15 years in prison.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at or 239-2507.

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