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In a first for Pittsburgh, police charge drug dealer in fatal overdose case

Megan Guza
| Monday, June 19, 2017, 4:30 p.m.
Darnell Stephens was arrested and charged in connection with the drug overdose death of Ian Michael Williams, 23, of South Abington.
Darnell Stephens was arrested and charged in connection with the drug overdose death of Ian Michael Williams, 23, of South Abington.

The online payment application Venmo helped lead Pittsburgh police to a man accused of selling a deadly dose of fentanyl to a University of Pittsburgh student who overdosed earlier this year.

Darnell Stephens, 21, of the North Side is charged with drug delivery resulting in death and other offenses.

The case is the first in which Pittsburgh police have charged a dealer in relation to a fatal overdose, according to Narcotics and Vice Cmdr. Reyne Kacsuta.

Stephens is charged in the death of 23-year-old Ian Williams, who was found dead in his Cobden Street home March 22, according to police. The medical examiner later determined Williams died from a fentanyl overdose.

Kascuta said she wants the arrest to send a message to drug dealers.

“We are going to investigate these cases, and we are going to charge you with drug delivery resulting in death when we get that evidence, and you're going to go to jail,” she said.

Stephens was first arrested in early April, when detectives investigating Williams's death executed a search warrant on Stephens and his car, according to the criminal complaint. Text messages and Venmo transactions linked Stephens to the deadly stamp bags found in Williams's home.

The April search turned up heroin, marijuana, cash, a firearm, three cellphones and four debit cards, according to the complaint. Stephens told police he'd met Williams on the city's South Side the night of March 22 and gave him two bundles of heroin. Williams paid Stephens $10 in cash and used Venmo to send him another $100.

Police arrested Stephens for Williams's death Monday morning.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter at @meganguzaTrib.

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