Judge issues warrant in overdose death

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BRATTLEBORO — Windham County led the state in having the most drug overdose deaths in 2018, but not every one of those deaths leads to criminal charges, said Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver.

Shriver said during a recent interview that law enforcement must be able to prove that a specific drug from a specific person at a specific time led to the person's death. She said of two dozen fatal overdoses in Windham County in 2018, only two resulted in charges — so far.

In the case of Brianna Radcliffe, it was eerily clear: the surveillance camera at the Dunkin Donuts shop on Putney Road, where Radcliffe worked, caught an exchange between Alicia Kelley, 30, and Radcliffe, 21, and within minutes, Radcliffe had gone into the bathroom, apparently to shoot up. Her father, who got the shop's manager to unlock the bathroom door, found his daughter sitting on the floor and passed out, a syringe by her arm.

Windham County Superior Court Judge John Treadwell signed an arrest warrant for Kelley late last month and set bail at $25,000. The attached affidavit from then-Brattleboro Police Detective Greg Eaton, now sergeant, detailed the events of June 8, 2018. Kelley is charged with a single felony count of selling or dispensing a regulated drug, with death resulting. Shriver said that charge has a heavier penalty than manslaughter, another charge her office sometimes brings in drug overdose cases.

Jennifer Pineda, Brianna Radcliffe's fiancee, found two packets of suspected drugs in Ray Radcliffe's car, where Brianna Radcliffe had sat on the way to the emergency room at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, according to court documents.

Shriver said that in the Radcliffe case, there was also social media, as Pineda was able to access Radcliffe's cellphone and found the Facebook messages between herself and Kelley setting up the purchase of the heroin and a "rig," or needle.

Shriver said that of all the deaths, only two, or maybe three, have resulted in criminal charges to the dealer.

But in the age of social media and surveillance cameras, the prosecutor hopes there's more. Kelley has fled Brattleboro, likely because she knew police were investigating her involvement with Radcliffe's death, said Shriver. While police have traced her to Florida by means of her social media postings, Shriver said Kelley will have to be arrested first in Florida before she can be extradited back to Vermont to face charges in connection with Radcliffe's death.

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