Meriden man convicted of negligent homicide after supplying drugs, not helping overdose victim

Meriden man convicted of negligent homicide after supplying drugs, not helping overdose victim

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MERIDEN — A city man faces prison after he was convicted Thursday of negligent homicide in connection with a fatal 2016 overdose. 

William Roberts, 28, of 247 New Hanover Ave., pleaded  “no contest,” to the charge and was found guilty by a judge.

A plea deal calls for Roberts to be sentenced to four years in prison, suspended after six months, followed by two years probation. He is due to be sentenced on May 30. 

On Sept. 19, 2016, Alex Comforte, 24 was found dead in a detached garage off a New Hanoer Avenue home, according to Roberts’ arrest warrrant. Roberts was using the detached garage as an apartment.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Comforte died as a result of acute intoxication from combined effects of cocaine, cocaethylene, heroin and alprazolam. His death was ruled an accident.

Paula Comforte, Alex’s mother, said the family is disappointed with the plead deal offered to Roberts.

“Even though it's six months, there’s no amount of time that would give me any comfort,” she said Thursday. 

She spoke during the court hearing on Thursday to let Roberts know “what he took from our family.” 

Paula Comforte said she was grateful for a conviction because other fatal overdose cases don’t often result in criminal prosecution. 

“People just have no regard for it, they think it’s just drug addicts,” she said. “It’s people’s children and people’s families that are dying.”

Attorney Noah Kores, who represents the family, and said other families members also feel the sentence is too lenient. Kores said a civil suit has been filed in the case. 

Roberts told police Comforte came to his home around 8 p.m. The medical examiner said Comforte’s time of death was around midnight. Police found drug paraphernalia at the scene.

Police determined Roberts sold drugs to several people during the four hours and obtained a search warrant for Roberts’ cell phone, finding deleted text messages between Roberts and his supplier. 

The deleted messages showed Roberts saying his friend Comforte was not breathing normally just before midnight, the warrant said. The supplier told Roberts he should call an ambulance, but Roberts said he was going to watch the friend “sleep it off.”

Police said Roberts should have been aware of the dangers of overdosing due to his personal history with illicit substances, and said he acknowledged that Comforte was in medical distress as early as 11:50 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2016. Roberts told his supplier that he wasn’t able to wake up Comforte, the warrant said.
Twitter: @LaurenSellewRJ


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