Judge orders three men charged in two overdose deaths detained
Three men charged in the overdose deaths of two Atlantic County residents were ordered detained pending trial Wednesday. Romeo Ramone, Christopher Garrett and William Johnson were indicted earlier this month under the strict liability homicide statute in the May 2 deaths of Aealeamyhn Tesdaye and Gabriel Morales-Vega. They face possible life sentences, if convicted. All three men were presented as career criminals, as Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey recited their criminal histories during separate detention hearings before Superior Court Judge Donna Taylor.
Ramone, a Megan’s Law offender, has 86 arrests in five states with nearly three dozen convictions. He has been cooperative with investigators, attorney Rochelle Rozier told the judge. That, apparently, includes a controlled buy he made involving Johnson, according to information revealed in court. But Johnson’s attorney, Bonnie Putterman, said her client was only brought into the case when Ramone tried to save himself.
Johnson, who has been out on federal parole for about 2½ years, did not get a violation for that May 5 drug arrest because there is an affidavit by Ramone saying it didn’t happen, Putterman said. He also served 15 years of a 30-year aggravated manslaughter conviction in 1999. “He’s basically spent his entire adult life in prison,” McKelvey said of Johnson. According to information she gave in court, Ramone and another man who has not been charged allegedly sold the deadly drugs to the two men.
Garrett allegedly sold the drugs to them. But that will be hard to prove, his defense attorney said. “Mr. Garrett is not accused of selling drugs to the victims,” Andrew Imperiale told Taylor. “He allegedly sold it to the people who sold it to the victims.” Several motions are expected in the case. The men are due back in court Jan. 3.