Prescription Drug Death Case Goes to Jury

Closing arguments wrap up the trial of an Ontonagon man accused of giving another man drugs that killed him last year.

59-year-old Frank Wheeler is accused of delivery of a controlled substance, causing death.

That’s one of the newest felonies on the books in Michigan.

It was added 2 years ago to respond to rising drug use, and it carries a possible sentence of life in prison.

23-year-old Finley Padden died in July 2007 in his Ontonagon home.

He took a fatal dose of a prescription painkiller through an arm patch.

Wheeler is the second person to be charged in the case.

Witnesses originally led police to 19-year-old Nicholas Derenzo, who was a friend of Padden’s.

Derenzo pleaded guilty to a lesser drug-related charge in exchange for his testimony at the trial.

He spent a year in jail and is now out on probation.