NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The same man who called 911 to help his dying girlfriend in Wilmington faces criminal charges in connection to her death.
Jeremy Martin Leutgens appeared before a judge via video conference Monday afternoon. The judge asked him if he understood the reason for the charge of involuntary manslaughter.
"No sir, not really," replied Leutgens.
District Attorney Ben David explained his understanding of how 25-year-old Stephanie Chappell Hobson died in July. Leutgens sells the synthetic drug 25i, according to David. He said the man gave his girlfriend two doses of it, then took some himself.
At first, preliminary autopsy results revealed no foul play was involved in Hobson's death, but further investigation suggests otherwise. Analysis of the pills found at the Tesla Park apartment confirmed they are the hallucinogenic drug 25i.
Leutgens was impaired when his girlfriend experienced problems with the drug. David said the suspect called other drug dealers before calling 911, which created a delay in the emergency care she needed. State law does not hold non-married couples responsible for a duty to act. David said this is a unique scenario that requires accountability outside of marriage.
"There's no question that if you create the danger, you have to provide the aid," David said.
Leutgens told 911 operators Hobson had taken "designer drugs she had gotten off the internet." He told officials he had been with Hobson all night and "then all of a sudden" she had died.
David considered a case out of Wake county to be similar to this one. The case involved a 15-year-old boy who did not call 911 while a 16-year-old girl overdosed on ecstasy.
25i is considered legal in North Carolina, so Leutgens is not charged with possession or intent to deliver. However, David asked a judge to subject Leutgens to drug testing if he's released on bond. The district attorney said his concern was that the suspect would continue to sell the drug while awaiting trial.
A court-appointed attorney will represent Leutgens. He could face a maximum prison sentence of nearly five years, depending on prior criminal history. The next court date is set for September 6.