SUMNER COUNTY, TN (WSMV) - More drug dealers are being charged with murder in Tennessee and, as of July 1, could face the death penalty.
Thursday, Portland police arrested Daniel Lemmons and charged him with 2nd degree murder after a Sumner County investigation found him responsible for the overdose death of another man on fentanyl.
"People are getting it without realizing it's mixed with other drugs," Mary Linden Salter, Executive Director of TAADAS, explained.
Tennessee is one of 20 U.S. states in which drug dealers can be charged with murder in an overdose death. As of this month, those convicted could face the death penalty.
Addiction advocates fear stricter penalties will make people reluctant to call for help, but Salter said there are good Samaritan laws on the books to protect those people too.
"Someone can call the police, call an emergency response team, and not be prosecuted for being on the scene at the time, if they're trying to help somebody," she explained, adding the law is crucial because it allows people the opportunity to seek help, including those dealing the drugs.
"You shouldn't die before you recover," Salter said. "There is a wide majority of those people who are in active addiction themselves. You can stop the cycle of drug trafficking if you can address the addiction."