Monday a jury will begin deliberations in the trial of Christopher Massena, a 24-year-old drug dealer facing life in prison if the jury decides he sold the drugs that killed Christian Ty Hernandez, a 22-year-old heroin addict.
Massena’s attorney will not be allowed to argue that Hernandez was to blame for his own death because he is a drug addict. Also prohibited: arguing that Massena is not guilty because he did not intend to kill Hernandez with the drugs he sold him. An autopsy found that Hernandez, 22, of Wellington, died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.
The case is the first of its kind in Palm Beach County. Besides the legal precedent, the case raises ethical questions about whether drug addicts should be held solely responsible for their overdose deaths.
Research has shown that addiction is a disease and as the disease progresses, many addicts will not be able to quit. That leaves them vulnerable to drug dealers, who prey upon their disease to make money.
In addition, many drug dealers do not even know what drugs they are selling. Although Hernandez was addicted to heroin, there was no heroin in his body when he died. The only drug found in his system was fentanyl, a drug roughly 100 times more powerful than morphine.