In this week's feature story, "Smackdown," we chronicle the life of Angela Halliday, a self-described heroin junkie from Bethalto, Illinois, who's now facing two drug-induced homicide charges for her alleged roles in a pair of drug deals that led to fatal overdoses.
Yesterday, we reported on the first charge brought against Halliday, which involves the fatal overdose of her acquaintance, Ben Berkenbile, on April 12. Today we offer more details on the second homicide charge, involving the overdose of her boyfriend, Josh Rogers, on May 10.
Halliday is determined to fight both charges all the way to trial. Given the varying nature of the circumstances surrounding each charge, she might need to adopt a different strategy for fighting each one.
In the Berkenbile case, Halliday participated in the physical drug run -- and, perhaps, the very transaction -- that preceded his overdose. In the case of Rogers, however, there is nothing to suggest that Halliday took part in the drug run that led to her boyfriend's death.
The coroner's inquest into Rogers' death (read a transcript here) suggests that Halliday sold Xanax tablets for cash earlier that day, giving the proceeds to Rogers, who used it to buy his fatal heroin.
If that's the evidence the prosecution uses as its main argument, it might be hard to convict Halliday. The Illinois drug-induced homicide statute defines the criminal act as "unlawfully delivering a controlled substance to another," which seems to connote either an actual hand-off, or, at very least, a defendant's physical presence during the time of the transaction.
But a judge might see it differently. Perhaps an argument could be made that -- yes, Halliday never handled the deadly dope, but she did handle money (procured from the illegal sale of Xanax) that she knew would later be used to purchase heroin.
Captain Bradley Wells, the chief of detectives for the Madison County Sheriff's Office, shrugs off such semantics. "Anybody who facilitates any part of the transaction in the passing of illegal drugs has culpability," he says.
Rogers had many friends in the Alton area, and at least one is blaming Halliday for Rogers' death -- not because of the drug deal, but because she believes Halliday should have noticed the warning signs when Rogers arrived back to their shared motel room in a heroin stupor.
"I'm so furious," Nikki Strasen, Rogers' one-time fiance (and Halliday's one-time friend), tells Daily RFT. "She could have saved his life, y'know? Put him on his feet. Get him in the shower. Smack him around. Call 911. Don't just let someone who OD'd on heroin sleep it off, because they're going to fucking die!" (Halliday says she made several attempts over the course of two hours to snap Rogers out of his stupor and never believed Rogers was in danger.)
Others come to Halliday's defense. "It's irresponsible and unjust to place sole responsibility on Angie for the deaths of Ben and Josh," says Rogers' close friend Ryan Davis. "Josh was a grown man, Ben was a grown man. They made their own decisions, and I think it's wrong to hold someone in jail for their own stupidity."
"Her crime is no more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time," he adds.
Halliday was charged for Rogers' death along with two others: Brian Beckham of East Alton, and Adam Butler of St. Louis. Beckham was recently apprehended; Butler is still on the lam.