Austin Cooper.JPG

A family member found the girl unresponsive at her home in Evesham Township’s Marlton section

A suspected heroin dealer was charged with homicide on Monday after one of his customers – a 15-year-old girl – fatally overdosed just after Christmas last year.

Austin Cooper

Austin Cooper, 21, of Willingboro, was charged with first-degree strict liability for drug-induced death, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

On December 26, a family member found the girl unresponsive at her home in Evesham Township’s Marlton section.

She was barely alive and transported to Virtua Marlton Hospital, and later flown to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She died on December 28.

Authorities investigating the girl’s death found that Cooper delivered 10 bags of heroin to the home before she died. He was charged at the time possessing and dealing heroin.

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Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina has pledged to “aggressively” pursue the strict liability charge when possible in prosecution, to help fight the opioid epidemic.

On that charge, a dealer can face 10 to 20 years in state prison, as opposed to three to five years for drug distribution.

“We cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic,” Coffina wrote in an Op-Ed in March. “…But law enforcement also must vigorously enforce the law to disrupt the distribution of these lethal substances.”

Cooper will appear in Superior Court in Mount Holly on Wednesday, where prosecutors will move to detain him, the county prosecutor’s office said.

Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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Source:: New Jersey Real -Time News

      

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