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Florida Woman Introduced a Friend to Her Dealer. Now She Faces Murder Charges.

An overdose death leads to an absurd prosecution.

Jamie NelsonPolice mug shotA Central Florida woman has been charged with first-degree murder in the fentanyl-related overdose death of a friend simply for helping the friend connect with a drug dealer.

Florida's drug war is particularly vicious. Prosecutors there can charge people who provide drugs with murder if their customers die from drug overdoses. Earlier this year, the state added fentanyl and other opioids to the list of drugs that can trigger murder charges (and some new mandatory minimum sentences as well).

But Jamie Nelson, 34, was not the dealer who provided the fentanyl and heroin that killed Tracy Skornika in June. According to police, Skornika gave Nelson $50 to help her to find a heroin connection. Nelson took her to a dealer she apparently knew. Skornika overdosed and was found on her bathroom floor. She was pronounced dead three hours later at a hospital.

There's nothing is this story that even suggests that Nelson wanted her friend dead. The Orlando Sentinel report on the case notes that Nelson cried when she found out Skornika had died.

It's an absurd upending of justice to think someone should be indicted for first-degree murder without intending to kill anybody. But Florida's drug war is so focused on punishment that prosecutors and lawmakers don't even care about intent. Nelson could face the death penalty if she's convicted.

This story needs attention, because these laws are sold as mechanisms to punish sinister drug dealers. But that's obviously not what's happening here, and this isn't an anomaly. A Reason investigation by C.J. Ciaramella and Lauren Krisai showed that Florida's prisons are full of people like Nelson: fellow addicts, not high-level drug dealers. Read what their data show here.

Photo Credit: Police mug shot

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  • BestUsedCarSales||

    What's a little more absurdity to the drug war? It's already a weird mix of Kafka and Orwell. Maybe as she waits in prison for death she will realize simultaneously own to her actions while admitting to the inherent meaningless of them. She will realize that there was never a purpose but her own choice and will come to terms with the inherent contradiction of existence. Make this extra absurd.

  • Rhywun||

    "I love big herd-brother."

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Sure, that was the intended extra absurdity.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I try not to draw attention.

  • Jerryskids||

    Skornika gave Nelson $50 to help her to find a heroin connection

    Is that $50 in US currency? Sounds to me like the Treasury Department was every bit as complicit in this heinous crime as this lady was.

  • Rhywun||

    She was probably gonna OD herself eventually, so who cares. One less junkie.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    We're all gonna die someday. One less problem to deal with.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    ON FEWER junkie. Wait... what's the rule, if it can be counted... you can count junkies, right?

  • Lily Bulero||

    I really should put on an athletic supporter before reading these stories.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Charge enough tangentially-connected people with murder, and eventually people will stop trying to self-medicate, right??

  • Hugh Akston||

    Eventually it will be more cost-effective to build a dome over the Florida and gas the whole state.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That'll leave only the gas-resistant alive, do you want that on your hands? Gas-resistant Florida People crawling out after you lift the dome?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Who said anything about lifting the dome?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The monsters we create will always get out. Have you never seen a horror movie?

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Florida Woman Introduced a Friend to Her Dealer. Now She Faces Murder Charges.
    An overdose death leads to an absurd prosecution.

    This is so stupid only an intellectual would approve of it.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    "Florida Intellectual"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Shouldn't Florida law enforcement be charged with murder for letting it happen?

  • Juice||

    Hey, come on. It's not like they're Italian seismologists.

  • BYODB||

    Disgusting.

  • Ken Shultz||

    By using this woman's photograph from her police mugshot, you're contributing to her public humiliation.

    Why not use a photo of the prosecutor who indicted her instead? He's the one that should be ashamed.

  • Cyto||

    A salient point.

    Just like they used a years-old picture of Trayvon Martin in every story to portray him as a sweet middle-schooler instead of a 17 year old high school student, stories about people accused of crimes always feature a mugshot, rather than a photo from a family picnic.

    Kinda contributes to a certain narrative, doesn't it?

    She should be pictured as her family and friends know her, smiling for a photo at a wedding or birthday party.

    And yes, the prosecutor should be pictured - since he is the ass who decided that an introduction to a supplier is premeditated murder. And his photo should be a grainy, dark photo of him looking away suspiciously as he gets into a car, like they do when they are trying to bury a public official.

  • Juice||

    Unless it's a female teacher accused of fucking a schoolboy. Then they post their bikini Facebook pics.

  • Longtobefree||

    So if I use a car in a getaway from a bank robbery, and after I have gone, with no knowledge of the event at all, a customer in the bank has a heart attack and dies, the dealer that sold me the car is going down with me?

    Nation of laws my ass.

  • Cyto||

    This is more like your friend who referred you to the car dealer being charged.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This is more like being mad at your co-worker for setting you up with her ugly friend.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    This is more like being the ugly friend.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Where was Florida Man during all of this?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Who do you think the dealer was?

  • I am one with the HAM||

    Florida Man made the arrest.

  • Juice||

    Hey, George Zimmerman got off. Why shouldn't she?

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    Sounds like this is an application of the felony-murder rule. If you commit a felony and someone dies as a result, you're guilty of murder, even if you didn't intend to kill anyone. This means that if you commit felony mail-fraud, and one of the victims has a heart attack when he learns that you have tricked him, and dies, then you are guilty of murder. It's nuts.

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