Daytona Beach, FL – A Volusia grand jury indicts another suspected drug dealer for first-degree murder in an overdose case, the second time it’s ever happened in the county.
Today’s (September 5th) indictment involved 24-year-old Hunter Romaine (photo below) of DeBary, who was taken into custody this afternoon in Seminole County by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and charged in the death of Ashley Barrett last February 1st.
Drug dealer indicted today on a murder charge in the February overdose death of a 33-year-old DeBary woman, Ashley Barrett. Hunter Romaine was taken into custody this afternoon in Seminole. 2 other drug dealers also arrested during this investigation. https://t.co/Ch7oGXBijp pic.twitter.com/OPBayJwzPH
— Volusia Co. Sheriff (@VolusiaSheriff) September 5, 2018
Investigators say Romaine sold the 33-year-old Barrett a mixture of what he thought was cocaine and heroin at his home on Cypress Drive the day she died without realizing that it also contained fentanyl.
Those drugs were found in her system during a toxicology test performed after her death, according to Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
— News Daytona Beach (@NewsDaytonaBch) September 5, 2018
“The penalty for having an addiction is not death,” Chitwood added during today’s press conference. “The dealers out there who are peddling poison to addicts need to be looking over their shoulder, because we are going to do everything we can to take them off the streets and [put them] into a cage.”
In June, Steven Montilla – a Sanford resident – became the first suspected drug dealer to face a first-degree murder charge in Volusia County for selling the drugs which caused a fatal overdose.
Text messages found by VCSO after Barrett died indicate that Romaine – who did call for the paramedics who tried to revive her – picked her up from her home and drove her to his to get the drugs just before she died, per VCSO.
Chitwood noted that Romaine also tried to hide and destroy evidence before calling the paramedics, including stashing the drugs and drug paraphernalia away.
“I’m sure that delay did not help Ashley survive this incident,” Chitwood added.
Romaine will be booked later today at Volusia County Jail, where records show he’s been booked seven other times since November 2012, including in March for driving with a canceled/suspended/revoked license. He’s also been booked in the past on numerous charges, some of which were drug-related.
A special VCSO narcotics unit created in January 2017 to investigate fatal overdose cases as potential homicides spent months putting together the details needed for the murder indictments of Montilla and Romaine.
That same unit also discovered more information during the Romaine investigation which led to the arrest of a DeBary father and son for selling heroin on the same day Barrett died.
49-year-old Salvatore “Sal” DeSantis III (first photo below) is free on $10,000 bond and awaiting trial after he was charged with principal to sale of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute and possession of narcotic paraphernalia.
His son – 21-year-old Salvatore “Daniel” DeSantis IV (second photo below) – was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after entering a no contest plea in March on one count of selling heroin.
Salvatore “Sal” DeSantis III
Salvatore “Daniel” DeSantis IV