ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Johns County man accused of selling fentanyl that led to a man's overdose death last year was arrested and charged with murder. The Sheriff's Office said it's the first time it has used provisions of a new state law to charge a drug dealer with murder for causing the death of a customer.
Oscar Novo, 26, is charged with selling the fentanyl to 27-year-old Parker Clarkson in February 2018. Deputies say they found a syringe and a plastic bag containing fentanyl next to Clarkson's body.
According to the arrest report, Novo first denied meeting with Clarkson, but in a second interview admitted to investigators that he did arrange to sell Clarkson narcotics and went to his workplace Feb. 19, 2018, to sell him the drugs.
Clarkson was found dead in his home the next day.
Detectives said Clarkson's cellphone shows text messages with Novo about meeting to buy heroin. Toxicology showed what Clarkson believed was heroin was really fentanyl.
Novo was arrested Friday and is being held without bond in the St. Johns County jail.
Clarkson's neighbor, Bill Kranjac, said he’s glad to see Novo charged with murder.
"Our kids are dying every day for this stuff and they just need to step up and do what they have to do and charge them," Kranjac said.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said he expects drug dealers will now try to sell fentanyl to their customers indirectly to avoid the chance of being charged with murder, adding that arrests like Novo’s do send a strong message.
"Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug. The FDA recognizes that," Jefferson said. "The message is clear that (the dealers) will be charged with murder."