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Local family urges law targeting drug providers

February 17, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Taylor Angle talks about her late brother, Harry L. Angle III also known as Trey, during a bill hearing in Annapolis Thursday. Their father, Harry Angle Jr., is sitting next to her. Harry L. Angle III of Boonsboro died in July 2007 from a mixture of methadone and alcohol.
By Andrew Schotz, Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS — Nearly four years after Harry L. Angle III of Boonsboro died, his family wants the state to punish adults who supply drugs to minors.

Angle, who was known as Trey, was 17 when he died in July 2007. His parents, Laureen Valentine and Harry Angle Jr., said a mixture of methadone and alcohol killed him.

Trey's family testified Thursday before a state Senate committee in support of Sen. Christopher B. Shank's bill that would create a new felony charge covering how drugs were sold to him.

The charge could be used against drug-providers at least 18 years old in cases where a minor uses the drugs and dies. The crime would carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Maryland law didn't specifically prohibit the sale of legal controlled dangerous substances to a minor, but it violated a federal statute.

Robert Carroll Eichelberger of Hagerstown pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in connection with Trey's death and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in December 2008.

Kathleen Ann Harris, of Olney, Md., pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Shank, R-Washington, said Eichelberger and Harris sold controlled dangerous substances to Boonsboro High School students several times and used proceeds to buy crack cocaine.

Valentine told the committee that people called her son's phone after he died to offer him more drugs, unaware of what happened.

"These kids — they don't think for themselves," she said, her voice shaking. "Their brains don't develop. They think it's not going to happen to them. We need to protect them."

"My parents are simply fighting for what is right," said Taylor Angle, Trey's 16-year-old sister.

She said passing the bill would help give the family closure.

Harry Angle Jr. struggled to describe the day he found his son dead.

"I live this nightmare every day, and I will until I die," he said.

Shank unsuccessfully tried last year to create the new criminal charge. He said he heavily amended his bill this year.

To address pharmacy groups' concerns, Shank excluded the lawful dispensing of drugs by a licensed pharmacist or health-care provider.

Police organizations also submitted statements saying they back the bill and think it could be a deterrent.

The state Office of the Public Defender submitted a statement opposing the bill, arguing that existing drug laws and the current crime of involuntary manslaughter are sufficient.

Shank disagreed. He said involuntary manslaughter requires negligence, which didn't appear to be a factor in Trey Angle's case.

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