2 men charged in Virginia woman's overdose death
The victim reportedly sought heroin from a neighbor, but the substance delivered by his supplier contained the more potent fentanyl, according to court documents.
DULUTH — Two men are facing third-degree murder charges for allegedly supplying the fentanyl that killed a Virginia woman in October.
David Keith Joseph Chatman, 37, of Virginia, and Torisa Sulvoris Wallace, 38, of Eveleth, were charged last Thursday in State District Court with the death of Brooke Ann Miller, 33.
According to a criminal complaint, Miller's boyfriend found her unresponsive on the floor of their apartment at Ivy Manor, 201 N. Fifth Ave. W., just after 8:30 p.m. Oct. 19. First responders attempted to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene from what a medical examiner later described as the "toxic effects of fentanyl."
Police said they found a powdery substance, which was later confirmed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to contain fentanyl. Officers also spoke with Chatman, another resident of the apartment building, who had stopped by to ask about Miller and indicated she had been looking for heroin, according to the complaint.
Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force investigators followed up with Chatman the next day. He allegedly stated that she had asked him for heroin a few days prior, but he turned her down. He said she asked again on Oct. 19, so he contacted his supplier — later identified by police as Wallace.
Wallace and Miller went to Chatman's apartment, where Miller paid $40 for what Chatman said he believed was heroin, according to the complaint. Chatman indicated Wallace produced the substance from a plastic bag and placed a small amount on a dollar bill; Miller then took it and left.
While executing search warrants Oct. 21, task force investigators said they recovered from Wallace's person a plastic bag containing a substance that later tested positive for fentanyl. Cellphone records also allegedly showed Miller messaging Chatman at 2:24 p.m. to ask, "Can u help me get some of that I was asking about that day?" The complaint states that Chatman responded, "Yes. How much?" and then called Wallace.
With the help of surveillance video and bank records, investigators said they were able to determine Miller left Ivy Manor at 3:13 p.m. and withdrew $40 from a bank. She then returned to Ivy Manor, briefly stopping at Chatman's apartment before going to her own unit, where no one else was seen entering until her boyfriend arrived home five hours later.
The complaint states that Wallace was interviewed by police but denied selling any fentanyl to Miller.
An obituary states that Miller spent most of her life in Duluth, attending Lake Superior College in Duluth and working as a certified nursing assistant. She later moved to Virginia and was employed at a sandwich shop. She left behind a daughter.
"Brooke was passionate about her heritage and loved to learn about Native American traditions," her obituary said. "She was fun-loving, free-spirited, sassy and always spoke her mind. Brooke was family oriented and often reached out to help those in need. She will forever be cherished in the hearts of those who knew and loved her."
Minnesota court records show that Chatman was convicted of a felony fifth-degree drug offense in 2006, but his history since has been limited to a handful of disorderly conduct and traffic-related violations. Judge Robert Friday set his bail at $100,000.
Wallace has a more extensive history, having served a five-year prison term for a second-degree assault conviction after a 2016 shooting in downtown Virginia . His record also includes multiple controlled substance crimes, illegal possession of firearms and credit card fraud.
Friday set Wallace's bail at $200,000, but he remains subject to a hold due to an alleged violation of his probation, which is active through April. He also has two pending felony cases involving alleged drug possession and sales.
Chatman is due back in court Monday, while Wallace is slated to appear Feb. 7.