Dexter man pleads guilty to amended charge in drug death case

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- A Dexter teenager pleaded guilty Monday to an amended charge related to the alleged sale of a pain medication to a friend, who subsequently died of a drug overdose.

Tyler Robert Hardin, 19, of the 900 block of West St. Francis Street pleaded guilty to the Class D felony of delivering an imitation controlled substance before Presiding Circuit Judge Stephen Sharp, according to Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Briney Welborn.

Hardin entered his plea after Welborn filed an amended information with the court during what was supposed to be Hardin's pretrial conference.

It alleged on Nov. 6, Hardin "delivered to Bryan Maslinski an imitation controlled substance ... a patch, which appeared to be a fentanyl patch, containing fentanyl, a controlled substance, knowing or consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustified risk that it was an imitation controlled substance."

Welborn said he decided to file the amended information because "we couldn't show that was actually fentanyl ..."

Hardin, Welborn said, entered an "open plea."

Sharp, who ordered a sentencing assessment report be completed by Probation and Parole, will have the full range of punishment available when he sentences Hardin at 10:30 a.m. May 20.

A Class D felony carries a penalty range of not more than five years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, a special term of not more than one year in the county jail and a fine of not more than $5,000.

Hardin was supposed to stand trial May 11 before Sharp on the Class B felonies of distribution of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, the Class C felony of possession of a controlled substance and the Class A misdemeanor of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Hardin had been charged in connection with a November incident, which was investigated by the Stoddard County Sheriff's Department.

The investigation began after Stoddard County deputies Keith Haynes and Hank Trout learned a man, Bryan Michael "Maz" Maslinski, was in the emergency room at Missouri Southern Healthcare at Dexter suffering from a drug overdose.

The 21-year-old Dexter man, who was in critical condition, was taken to Southeast Missouri Hospital in Cape Girardeau, where he died.

"After further investigation, we were told Tyler Hardin had sold Maslinski a 100-mg fentanyl patch the previous night," Haynes said in his probable cause affidavit on file with the court. Fentanyl is a pain medication patch that is absorbed through the skin.

The deputies went to Hardin's residence, where he was told of his rights and agreed to be interviewed.

"Hardin admitted to selling Maslinski a fentanyl patch for $30 the previous night," said Haynes, who is assigned to the SEMO Drug Task Force.

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