A Front Royal man has been directly indicted on a second-degree murder charge from an overdose death in February 2020.
Brandon Lawson, 30, of 111 W. 12th St., Apt. 4, was indicted on Monday by a Warren County Circuit Court grand jury. He has also been charged with the distribution of fentanyl from the same incident. He was arrested on the charges on Thursday.
Lawson was previously charged at the general district court level with a distribution charge from the night of the incident. But the Commonwealth's Attorney’s Office entered a nolle prosequi in the case on Dec. 1 with the potential for a homicide case, Commonwealth's Attorney John Bell said during a phone interview. A nolle prosequi is when the prosecution decides not to pursue the charge but can bring it back within a certain time period.
The case was sent back to the Front Royal Police Department for further investigation before seeking the grand jury indictment, Bell said. He declined to comment on the particulars of the case and what part of the investigation lead to the second-degree murder charge.
According to court documents for the distribution charge at Warren County General District Court, Lawson told police he had given Gerald Brandon Blevins drugs the morning of Feb. 29, 2020.
Lawson woke up around 7 a.m. that day and Blevins was up before him, the complaint states.
As soon as Lawson woke up, he “used” and gave some to Blevins, the complaint states. Lawson then went to the bedroom and when he returned between four and 10 minutes later, he found Blevins hunched over on the bed with vomit coming out of his mouth, the complaint states.
Lawson placed Blevins on the floor and administered two nasal doses of Narcan, the complaint states. Lawson called 911 and EMTs were dispatched. Front Royal police responded and found Lawson, who was trying to help Blevins, the criminal complaint states.
Blevins was unresponsive and EMTs attended to him, the complaint states. A checklist for bail determinations, completed on Feb. 29, 2020, by a magistrate after Lawson was arrested states that Blevins had died.
Lawson told police he bought the fentanyl on a corner in Baltimore, the complaint states.
Lawson is represented by attorney Eric Wiseley, of Front Royal, who had represented him at the general district court level. Lawson had applied for a court-appointed attorney on Friday, leading to the appointment of Wiseley again.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Fleming is prosecuting the case.
Lawson was granted a $5,000 bond Friday, with the usual conditions, including not being allowed to leave the state. He is due back in court for both charges on June 14.