A 25-year-old man gave fentanyl to a 16-year-old girl during a party in his Aurora apartment and then got no help for the girl when she overdosed and died. This resulted in a grand jury indictment accusing the man of first degree murder.
Jorge Alexander Che-Quiab was charged with the death of Alexis Krzystek and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl during the same party. The girl told authorities that she woke up after blacking out drunk and found her underwear removed and her pants pulled backwards.
Che-Quiab later admitted sexually assaulting the 14-year-old, according to the charges.
He is charged with a total of 13 criminal offenses related to the party, which took place on August 6th and 7th, and his $ 2 million detention in Arapahoe County Jail.
On the night of the party, Che-Quiab brought at least three girls and an 18-year-old woman into his apartment and gave his guests pills that he said were oxycodone but, according to the grand jury indictments, were actually fentanyl. He crushed the pills and his guests snorted the powder, according to the prosecution.
He and two other men at the party sexually assaulted some of the guests after they were reportedly too high or drunk to resist.
Che-Quiab told investigators that he noticed that Krzystek slipped into and out of consciousness after snorting the fentanyl and that he saw her lips turn blue, but he did not seek medical help for her. Instead, he went to sleep and woke up in the morning to find that the 16-year-old girl was not breathing.
He told detectives he did CPR and called 911, then flushed some cocaine in the toilet while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. The police who searched the apartment found a bag of blue fentanyl pills and three other bags of what appeared to be heroin.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more effective than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Colorado, deaths from fentanyl more than quadrupled between 2016 and 2019. According to the Colorado Health Institute, 220 deaths were recorded in 2019 alone.
One girl who survived the party told investigators that Che-Quiab called the pills “blue oxy” when he offered them to teenagers.
“In this case, we have a teenage victim given what she thought was ‘oxy’ and she died of a fentanyl overdose,” 18th District Attorney George Brauchler said in a statement. “This is a warning to illicit drug users: the risk cannot be overstated, and it is death.”
Che-Quiab, who entered the United States illegally, regretted not helping Krzystek in several interviews with police.
It is uncommon, but not uncommon, for Colorado drug dealers or vendors to be charged with first degree murder when their users fatally overdose. In 2014, a centenarian woman linked to four fatal overdoses was charged with overdose of first degree murder in the 2011 death of 21-year-old Carter Higdon. She pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Che-Quiab is charged with two first degree murders under two provisions of state law that apply to a person who commits a first degree murder when attempting to commit sexual assault and causing the death of a person during the attempt, or when he acts with “extreme indifference to the value of human life” and knowingly endangering another person’s life, causing that person’s death.
A handful of criminal prosecutions, with a variety of charges, are brought against drug dealers or vendors in the state each year, fifth District Attorney Bruce Brown said, and the charges that are brought will vary depending on the specifics of the case.
The parents of a Lakewood toddler who overdosed on fentanyl earlier this year were charged with child abuse that resulted in death after admitting to selling drugs from the hotel room where the family lived.
Brown has never made a fatal overdose of first degree murder charges, but has prosecuted murder and homicide allegations. In 2018, a Summit County drug dealer pleaded guilty to negligent murder after selling fentanyl-infused heroin to a 32-year-old man who had fatally overdosed.
Overdose cases are complex, Brown said, and law enforcement officers need to conduct a thorough homicide investigation to bind the drug user to the victim. But he said such prosecutions and convictions could put the traders off.
“First and foremost is deterrence,” he said. “And the grieving families, these are the victims that are left behind. To make them feel there is a responsibility for the loss of their loved one … that is an important consideration in these cases. “