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10/02/2023 07:25 PM

Griswold man charged with manslaughter in overdose deaths of ‘friend, relative’

Griswold ― A local man was charged Friday with two counts of second-degree manslaughter after state police said he provided fentanyl to a friend and a relative who died of overdoses in July 2022.

Following a yearlong investigation, Christopher Marsh, 33, of 9 Fogarty Road, turned himself in on an arrest warrant to state police at Troop E in Montville. He was also charged with sale of narcotics, posted a $250,000 surety bond and was scheduled to appear Oct. 5 in Norwich Superior Court.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Marsh called 911 around 12:30 p.m. July 11 to report that his 64-year-old female relative and a 30-year-old male friend had “ODed.” Police said it appeared the victims had been dead for several hours before Marsh called for help.

Both victims were pronounced dead at Backus Hospital at 12:47 p.m.

Marsh told police he had awakened between 9 and 9:30 a.m. that day after a night of heavy drinking at a Griswold residence and reported finding his friend lying on the floor in the kitchen and thinking the friend was asleep. After kicking him several times and eliciting no response, Marsh told police he wrote it off as his friend being in a “haze” and went back to sleep on the couch.

The next time he woke up, at 11:20 a.m., Marsh again tried to wake his friend by kicking him, this time harder. With his friend still unresponsive, Marsh said he touched him and found him “cold.” Marsh then found his relative slumped over in a nearby room, he told police.

During the investigation, police learned that the residence was owned by Marsh’s relative and that Marsh’s friend had come by around 5 p.m. July 10 to play cards with Marsh and his relative. Sometime around 9 p.m., the relative and the friend “sniffed cocaine” at the kitchen table, Marsh told police.

Marsh said he did not do cocaine with the other two because he “typically only consumes heroin and/or fentanyl to get high” and does not like the way cocaine “makes him feel,” according to the affidavit.

After police examined the table and found no drugs, Marsh admitted that he’d cleaned up the scene and had hid the drugs outside the residence’s detached garage. Police searched the area and found a plastic bag and a paper plate containing a “white, powdery substance,” along with a straw on his bed, all of which were sent to the Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory for analysis.

A report that came back Oct. 28, 2022, indicated that all three pieces of evidence contained traces of fentanyl, according to the affidavit.

The same day, police received autopsy reports from the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner that concluded Marsh’s friend had died of “acute intoxication by the combined effects of ethanol and fentanyl” and that his relative had died of “acute intoxication by the combined effects of ethanol, 7-amino clonazepam, and fentanyl with recent cocaine use.”

Investigators at the Troop E barracks took a statement from Marsh at 4:30 p.m. on the afternoon of the victims’ deaths.

“Marsh’s initial statements about the events of the night were inconsistent and continuously changing,” the investigators wrote in the affidavit.

Marsh had originally told police his friend and relative had “wanted to consume cocaine” so “Victim 1,” Marsh’s friend, had called someone to bring the drug. Marsh said his friend met a dealer outside while Marsh watched the transaction take place from inside the residence.

However, after Marsh was advised that his and his friend’s cellphone records would be examined as part of the investigation, Marsh admitted to ordering the drugs himself. He told police the man who sold him the drugs went by the nickname “Teddy.”

A few weeks later, police obtained a search-and-seizure warrant for Marsh’s cellphone, which revealed a deleted call to Teddy as well as Teddy’s contact information.

On Aug. 21, 2023, police spoke to the brother of the male victim, who revealed that Teddy had told him he had delivered “$75 worth of cocaine and $100 worth of fentanyl” to Marsh at Marsh’s relative’s home the night before the victims were found dead. He added that Teddy told him “he thought it was weird” Marsh asked for fentanyl because he had only ever bought cocaine for his relative.