A murder case has been thrown out against a Coon Rapids man charged with providing the heroin that killed a 36-year-old man from Robbinsdale.
A charge of third-degree murder was dismissed in Hennepin County District Court against Jaquan P. Peoples on Monday, one day before his 31st birthday. Peoples, who authorities say is known on the street as “Vampire,” was charged in the death of Phillip D. Moore in September 2016.
“We dismissed … because our key witnesses have disappeared, and we could not find them in time to make the court date,” Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the county attorney’s office, said Thursday.
“So, in the interest of justice, we reluctantly dismissed [the case].”
Laszewski added that prosecutors retain the option to charge the case anew “if we locate our witnesses later.”
“This is the difficulty of charging third-degree murder cases against drug dealers,” Laszewski said. “Our witnesses frequently are drug users themselves, and they are highly mobile, and it’s difficult to maintain contact with them.”
At the time Peoples was charged, County Attorney Mike Freeman noted a spate of fatal heroin overdoses in the Twin Cities and said, “We will continue to hold drug dealers accountable by charging them with murder.”
On the evening of Moore’s death, police were called to the intersection of 41st and Regent avenues N. in Robbinsdale about a “man down,” the criminal complaint against Peoples read.
Moore, who left behind a wife and daughter, was hospitalized that night and soon died. The medical examiner’s office blamed his death on a mixture of heroin, fentanyl, methadone and a drug known commercially as Xanax.
Two weeks after Moore died, Peoples went to prison on a robbery conviction. He also has convictions for assault, forgery, drug possession, theft and other offenses.