Alleged dealer faces murder charge in overdose
An alleged Hamblen County drug dealer who police say provided painkillers to his girlfriend that caused her to lapse into unconsciousness and die learned Tuesday afternoon he’s facing hard prison time for sharing his pills, authorities say.
Patrick James O’Brien, 27, Central Church Road, was indicted by a Hamblen County grand jury on Monday for second-degree murder in connection with the Oct. 24 overdose of 28-year-old Krisite Goble at the Travel Lodge on West Andrew Johnson Highway.
The lead investigator in the case, Detective Lt. Vicki Arnold with the Morristown Police Department, took O’Brien into custody Tuesday at his workplace.
Tennessee law provides that a second-degree murder charge is appropriate when someone unlawfully provides a Schedule II drug to a person and the drug is the proximate cause of death.
An autopsy indicated that Goble had a toxic concentration of Opana, an opiate painkiller whose generic name is oxymorphone, in her system when she died, MPD Maj. Michelle Jones said this morning.
In October, O’Brien called 911 and reported that he awoke and noticed Goble was not breathing. Jones says it appears the defendant rented the room for the sole purpose of selling drugs.
The previous day, O’Brien had filled a prescription for 60 Opana pills. The prescribed dosage was one pill every 12 hours. The prescription bottle contained only 33 pills, which means 27 pills had been taken or otherwise disposed of in one day, according to Jones.
The defendant was also holding nearly $1,900 in cash, a pill grinder and a cut straw, according to Jones, who added messages retrieved from O’Brien’s cell phone were consistent with drug sales.
If his girlfriend’s death and the pending felony drug charges had any impact on O’Brien, it wasn’t profound enough to alter his drug-seeking behavior, according to Arnold.
When O’Brien was arrested Tuesday, he was holding an overly depleted prescription bottle, the detective alleges.
Earlier that same day, O’Brien filled a prescription for 42 Opanas with instructions to take one pill every eight hours. Six pills were missing from the bottle, according to Arnold.
O’Brien also was holding a cut straw and a metal strip that was dusted with white powder residue, according to a warrant. He was charged with illegal possession of Opana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
It remains unclear when O’Brien was released from jail on bond following the October incident at the Travel Lodge. Leaving jail again will be a far more expensive proposition.
His bond for second-degree murder and the drug-related offenses was set at $103,000. O’Brien was scheduled to be arraigned on the drug charges today. Arraignment for the homicide charge will be on Sept. 30 in Hamblen County Criminal Court.
-By Robert Moore, Tribune Staff Writer