WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Two people have been charged with murder following the July 2022 death of a 21-year-old Wichita Falls man who had ingested a counterfeit pill containing fentanyl.
Leigha Ruth Smith, 22, and Jacinto Jimenez, 21, both of Wichita Falls, are charged with the murder of 21-year-old Andres Diaz on July 15, 2022.
Smith was booked into the Wichita County Jail on Thursday, September 8, on a $500,000 bond. Jimenez, who has been jailed since August 9 on various other charges, now has a murder charge filed against him with a bond of $1,000,000.
According to the affidavit, officers with the Wichita Falls Police Department responded to United Regional around 5:40 a.m. on July 15 in reference to a possible overdose. Hospital officials told police the victim, later identified as Diaz, had been dropped off in the emergency room by Smith.
Diaz was pronounced deceased at 5:39 a.m. on July 15, 2022. An autopsy of Diaz’s body ruled his death was caused by the toxic effects of fentanyl.
According to the affidavit, Smith told police she and Diaz had purchased what they believed to be Percocet pills from Jimenez. Smith said she swallowed a pill and Diaz crushed one up and snorted it.
Smith told police soon after Diaz snorted the pill he passed out and never regained consciousness. She said she realized he was no longer breathing and was cold to the touch, so she took him to the hospital.
A few weeks before Diaz’s death, a search warrant on Jimenez’s residence uncovered a fentanyl pill that resembles Percocet. Jimenez admitted to selling fentanyl pills to pay for his own habit.
The affidavit said Smith showed police Facebook messenger conversations between her and Jimenez confirming she’d bought the pill from Jimenez the night Diaz died.
The charges filed on Smith and Jimenez mark the second and third fentanyl-related murder arrests in the past two weeks.
On Monday, August 29, 2022, Jakob Blankenship, 19, was arrested and charged with murder after allegedly selling counterfeit pills containing fentanyl which lead to the death of Zoe Brewer, 20, in April 2022.
The previous Friday, August 26, 2022, officials with the WFPD and the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office addressed the presence of fentanyl in Wichita Falls.
WFPD officials said over 50 arrests made in the first half of 2022 involved fentanyl, 15 of which resulted in the death of someone who ingested fentanyl.
Wichita County D.A. John Gillespie said the charge of felony murder does not require intent to kill, only someone in the course of committing a felony, like distributing fentanyl.
“I think juries in our communities will recognize this type of poison is an act dangerous to human life,” Gillespie said. “If you deal this, then you are engaging in acts that are clearly dangerous to human life, and then it causes the death of another.”
County officials said they will be reexamining the fentanyl-related overdose deaths that have occurred recently and bring charges against those who provided the deceased with the dangerous drug.
“We are going to bring all the tools to bear on these overdoses,” Gillespie said. “We are sick and tired of seeing these in the community and we want to send a message to the people who deal it… We are going to target you.”