SAN JOSE, Calif. - Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office says a man is being charged with murder after the fentanyl pills he sold caused the death of a young woman in San Jose. This is the 4th fentanyl-related murder case in Santa Clara County since last year.
The D.A. says the defendant knew he was selling these lethal drugs and his drug dealing lead to her overdose and death in Santa Clara County.
"Mr. Kupka in February of this year, sold a pill that he said was Percocet also known as M-30 but actually contained a deadly amount of fentanyl," said Teresa Souto, Santa Clara County Deputy D.A.
JonPaul Rene Kupka from Monterey County was charged with murder last week after investigators say he sold an M-30 fentanyl pill like this one. On February 12 in San Jose, 24-year-old Heather Matchulat overdosed and died after sharing an M-30 pill with her boyfriend that Kupka sold.
"We are finding cases now where we do have the evidence where the person who engages in the sale knows the danger of what they’re doing and is choosing to engage in the behavior anyway. Choosing to endanger the lives of the people of the County. So, for our office, that really is the distinction. Knowing the danger and not caring," Souto said.
Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Dept. reported fentanyl-related deaths rose from 17 to 41 in the month of May alone, from the month before. Dr. Andrew Herring is a Director with CA Bridge to Treatment and is Chief of Addiction Medicine with Alameda Health System.
"Oxycodone and fentanyl are very similar in many respects. Fentanyl is just very cheap to produce, and you create a counterfeit Oxycodone which might be known as an M30 and then that’s sold. Some folks do not know that it is a counterfeit pill made of fentanyl, but many do," Dr. Herring said.
Dr. Herring says treating addiction is key in the fight to prevent fentanyl-related deaths. He says because so many people are addicted, drug cartels and dealers like Kupka aren’t going away any time soon.
"Again it’s not to condone the sale, but just to be compassionate and pragmatic, that going after the on-the street dealer, it’s not going to fix this problem," Dr. Herring said.
Souto says currently, two fentanyl-related death cases have been resolved for manslaughter and there are still two cases pending. The maximum sentence Kupka could face is life in prison.