After being convicted of only a low-level felony in connection with the overdose death of an Ashley teen, 22-year-old Shane R. Lindsay could end up avoiding prison time.
Lindsay, who was convicted Monday only of obstructing justice by lying to police during their investigation of the death of 18-year-old Dakota Ellerbusch, is eligible for probation.
Lindsay’s attorney, Dennis Hatch, said Tuesday the class 4 felony charge carries a possible prison sentence of one to three years — but Lindsay is eligible for a sentence of up to 30 months of probation and no prison time. He also could be ordered to pay up to $20,000 in fines.
Ellerbusch was found dead by his grandfather on New Year’s Day at a family-owned clubhouse in rural Washington County.
Hatch declined to comment further on the case Tuesday because he intends to file post-trial motions.
Lindsay was released from police custody Monday evening after a jury found him guilty of obstructing justice but acquitted him of a charge alleging he concealed Ellerbusch’s death.
He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Daniel Emge at 9 a.m. Sept. 21.
The split verdict came just hours after Emge dismissed three of five charges against Lindsay in response to a motion filed during the trial by Hatch to have all five charges dismissed.
Prosecutors had charged Lindsay with drug-induced homicide, obstruction of justice by lying to police, concealment of a death, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and involuntary manslaughter.
The obstruction charge accused Lindsay of giving false information to a Washington County detective “as to the true circumstances surrounding the death of Dakota Ellerbusch and his actions and involvement thereto.”
The concealment charge accused Lindsay of “lying to and giving misdirection to John Ellerbusch as to the actual physical location of Dakota Ellerbusch,” for the purpose of “preventing or delaying the discovery of the death of Dakota Ellerbusch.”
The other charges alleged Lindsay provided the fentanyl that prosecutors said caused Ellerbusch’s overdose death.
Emge ruled Monday that there was no evidence admitted in the case that Lindsay gave Ellerbusch fentanyl, that fentanyl was in the teen’s system or that the fentanyl caused the teen’s death. The three dismissed charges all explicitly named fentanyl as part of the crime committed.
The toxicology report listing fentanyl as a chemical found in Ellerbusch’s system was not admitted as evidence after an objection by Hatch.
The judge ruled that State’s Attorney Daniel Bronke did not establish that the teen’s blood and urine samples were not tampered with from the time the coroner dropped them off at the hospital and they arrived at the Saint Louis University laboratory — referred to as the chain of custody in court.
An autopsy was not performed because Washington County Coroner Mark Styninger said he didn’t see a need for the procedure, according to his testimony. An official cause of death was never determined.
Bronke did not immediately return a call Tuesday for comment.