Murder charges filed in Orono overdose

By Staff Reports

A St. Paul man has been charged with murder in the overdose death of an Orono man, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Garyegus Lealexander Cooper, 38, has been charged with one count of third-degree murder for the sale of a controlled substance in the June 2016 death of a 33-year-old Orono man.

According to the criminal complaint, sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of a death at an Orono home on June 25, 2016. Deputies arrived and found an unresponsive male on a bedroom floor. Based on the condition of the body, it was apparent that the victim was deceased and life-saving measures would be in vain.

According to the complaint, there were no signs of trauma, but there was evidence the victim had been using drugs. Deputies found paraphernalia – including a lighter, spoon and needles – and a plastic baggie that appeared to contain heroin. The victim had a puncture wound on his right arm, consistent with having recently injected himself, according to the complaint.

Deputies learned that the victim had been found by a family member and had last been seen alive on June 24, 2016.

In the course of the investigation, deputies discovered text messages on the victim’s cell phone indicating that he had been attempting to purchase heroin from an individual, later identified as Cooper.

An autopsy determined that the cause of death was heroin, fentanyl and alcohol toxicity. Forensic testing on the substance found in the baggie determined that it was a fentanyl-heroin mixture.

Forensic testing also uncovered Cooper’s DNA on the baggie, according to the complaint.

Cooper is currently in custody and is next scheduled to appear in court in April.