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Man sentenced for selling fentanyl-laced pill that led to fatal overdose

Updated April 16, 2024 - 11:49 pm

The prosecution and defense agreed that 29-year-old Timothy McCracken was not a “big-time supplier” of drugs.

But he was charged with second-degree murder after his friend, Jacob Mathis, 27, died in 2021 from a drug overdose after ingesting a fentanyl-laced pill that McCracken sold him. McCracken pleaded guilty in January to voluntary manslaughter, and was sentenced on Tuesday to probation.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think he knew what he was selling,” District Judge Carli Kierny said Tuesday before ordering the sentence. “I don’t know that a continued incarceration is going to fix anything, unfortunately.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Schwartzer had asked the judge to sentence McCracken to a minimum of two years behind bars, but Kierny instead ordered him to probation not to exceed five years. If he violates the terms of his probation, which includes testing positive for drug use, then he could face four to 10 years in prison.

Schwartzer told the judge that Mathis was an Army veteran who suffered an injury during his service, and was prescribed addictive pain medications from a doctor. He later went to McCracken to buy illicit pills.

“It’s honestly an indictment on our entire system that this is something that has to happen for proud veterans like Jake, that he has to turn to people like his friend Mr. McCracken in order to get any sort of relief,” Kierny said during the hearing.

Police were called to a home in the 9800 block of Bermuda Road after a maintenance worker found Mathis dead on April 3, 2021. The Clark County coroner’s office ruled Mathis’ death was an accident due to fentanyl, oxymorphone and mitragynine drug toxicity. According to an arrest report, police found texts between Mathis and McCracken in which Mathis agreed to pay McCracken for five pills.

McCracken’s lawyer, Scott Holper, told the judge on Tuesday that McCracken “wasn’t engaged in making profit,” and was helping Mathis access the pills.

Schwartzer said that McCracken should face a punishment for Mathis’ death, even though it appeared that McCracken was not acting as a “big-time supplier” and was only selling pills occasionally.

“Every time he does so, he’s basically playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun with people in our community,” Schwartzer said.

McCracken, who appeared in court while in a wheelchair, with his left arm in a sling, gave a statement to the judge on Tuesday and apologized to Mathis’ family.

“I think about it every day,” McCracken said. “If I could trade places, I would do it in a heartbeat.”

When the judge asked if McCracken was staying sober, he said that Mathis’ death “really woke him up,” and that he’s afraid to take over-the-counter pain medication now.

Mathis’ stepmother, Melissa Maxie-Mathis, said she was speaking on behalf of her family because Mathis’ father could not bring himself to attend court and sit in the same room as McCracken.

“I want everyone to know all the great things that we will never get to experience again because of this horrific incident,” Maxie-Mathis said. “We want people to know that Jake was a great man, and not just another fentanyl case.”

Maxie-Mathis said that her stepson had a promising job with a union, and he left behind a young niece and nephew when he died.

Following the hearing, Maxie-Mathis said she was frustrated that McCracken was placed on probation instead of being sent to prison. She said she did not believe McCracken was particularly close with her stepson beyond selling him drugs.

“He didn’t lose his best friend, he lost a client and money,” Maxie-Mathis said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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