Deputies: Overdose death leads to murder charge for drug dealer
Detectives say it's 1st murder arrest connected to selling drugs in county
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – An 18-year-old girl's death from an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin in November has led to the arrest of the man Clay County deputies say sold the drugs that killed her.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office said it's the first murder arrest connected to the sale of drugs in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.
Investigators said Trumaine "Lucky" Muller, 32, was indicted May 15 for first-degree murder for selling a lethal dose of fentanyl-laced heroin that killed Ariell Jade Brundige, who died of an overdose on Nov. 10.
“I think little Lucky ain't so lucky no more,” Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels said Tuesday in announcing Muller's arrest. “I'm changing his street name from Lucky to Unlucky.”
Brundige was a freshman at Florida State College at Jacksonville. She played soccer at Lee High School and was a child model. Her father described her as an "outgoing, helpful and pleasant daughter."
"I know I shouldn't take situations like this personally, but I do, because this little girl, although she may have had some dependency issues and clearly she did, this still was somebody's daughter or somebody's child," Daniels said.
Daniels had strong words Tuesday for people who commit crimes in his community, particularly those related to drugs.
“If you decide that you're going to commit a crime in Clay County, you've got options,” Daniels said. “Get the hell out of Clay County or we'll come get you wherever you are.”
Daniels and representatives from the State Attorney's Office vowed Tuesday that Muller will not be the last drug dealer charged with murder for selling drugs that kill people.
Detectives also arrested Tyler Hamilton, 26, and Christopher Williams, 32, for manslaughter in Brundige's death.
Deputies said they bought the drugs that killed Brundige, and Hamilton, who was Brundige’s boyfriend, was with her when she died.
Toxicology results showed Brundige had well over the lethal amount of fentanyl in her system. Fentanyl can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin.
Detectives said that the opioid epidemic has prompted them to approach all narcotics overdose cases as homicides, and that's how they investigated Brundige's death.
Detectives said a narcotics search warrant was served at Muller's residence in early February and he was initially arrested on charges of sale and delivery of narcotics and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Muller served a one-year sentence from 2011-12 on a drug dealing conviction out of Duval County.
According to the sheriff’s office, Brundige's death was one of 49 drug overdose deaths in Clay County last year. The other 48 cases are now being reviewed for possible murder charges for drug dealers.
In addition to those deaths, there were also 448 overdoses in Clay County in which lives were saved the use of Narcan.
So far this year, there have been 16 drug overdose deaths. Fentanyl was found in eight of the cases, deputies said.
The Sheriff's Office said that although the drug that killed Brundige was heroin laced with fentanyl, selling any drug that kills someone could now be considered cause for a charge of first-degree murder for the dealer.
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