Woman Charged With Murder, Accused of Passing Drugs in Prison With a Kiss

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A woman has been charged with murder after she sneaked a small balloon filled with methamphetamine into a Tennessee prison and, via a kiss, gave it to her incarcerated boyfriend who later died of an overdose, the authorities said.

The woman, Rachal Dollard, 33, of Dickson, Tenn., was charged on Saturday with second-degree murder and introduction of contraband into a prison facility, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction. It was not immediately clear if she had a lawyer.

On Feb. 19, Ms. Dollard traveled to the Turney Center Industrial Complex in Only, Tenn., to visit her boyfriend, Joshua Brown, 30, who was serving an 11-year sentence on a drug-related conviction that was set to expire in 2029, the department said. She placed a balloon containing half an ounce of methamphetamine in her mouth and kissed Mr. Brown, who retrieved it, the department said.

Mr. Brown then swallowed the balloon, apparently planning to retrieve it from the toilet after using the bathroom, the department said.

But the balloon later ruptured in his body, and Mr. Brown died of an overdose, Dorinda Carter, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement.

The case came as prosecutors across the country increasingly treat overdose deaths as homicides, using laws devised to go after drug dealers to now charge friends and partners, and hold someone criminally accountable.

It’s unclear how the Department of Corrections determined that Ms. Dollard had given Mr. Brown the drugs. In its statement, the department said that Ms. Dollard was “observed” passing the drugs, but does not specify how or by whom. Ms. Carter said that “all interaction during visitation is closely monitored by staff using various security measures.”

Officials did not say how or when they believe Ms. Dollard was able to sneak in methamphetamine. The department noted in its statement that they pat-search visitors and have drug-detection dogs in prisons.

Ms. Dollard would face up to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 if convicted.

Sonia Dollard, Ms. Dollard’s mother, told NBC News that her daughter was adamant that “she didn’t do it.”

“I wasn’t there so I don’t know, but she’s denying this happened,” Sonia Dollard said.

David Imhof, the director of the Tennessee Department of Correction’s office of investigations and conduct, said in a statement that the episode pointed to “the real dangers of introducing contraband into prisons and the consequences that follow.”

A similar case involving a fatal kiss occurred in Oregon: Melissa Ann Blair was found guilty of drug conspiracy charges in 2017 and sentenced to two years in prison in connection with the death of her inmate boyfriend, Anthony Powell, The Associated Press reported. She had passed him seven tiny balloons filled with methamphetamine through a kiss, and two eventually ruptured in Mr. Powell’s stomach, killing him.

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