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Rhode Island woman convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter after Bristol County man dies in overdose



A 31-year-old Providence woman who provided a lethal cocktail of narcotics to a North Attleboro man, failed to call for help as he overdosed to death and left him incapacitated was convicted Friday of Involuntary Manslaughter and other charges, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced.

Emily Velez pled guilty to indictments charging her with Involuntary Manslaughter, Larceny of a Motor Vehicle and Larceny Over $250 of a Person Above the Age of 60. She was sentenced by Judge Thomas Perrino to serve three to five years in state prison, to be followed by one year of supervised probation.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Michael Scott and Catherine Sauter.

The evidence at trial would show that on November 24, 2021, at around 6:00 p.m., Velez was arrested in Warwick, Rhode Island, for shoplifting at Walmart. Soon after her arrest, Velez told the local police that they should check on a man named Dennis Heelen (age 61) in North Attleboro, because she had used fentanyl with him earlier that day and he was unresponsive when she left him at 10:00 a.m.

Velez admitted to the police that she also took the victim’s car, cell phone, and wallet when she left his house. The evidence would also show that she had used the victim’s Discover Card.

At approximately 7:00 p.m. that evening, North Attleboro Police responded to the victim’s house and found him dead in his bed. The police found a plastic baggie with fentanyl residue in his bedroom trash can. There was no other drug paraphernalia or evidence of drug use elsewhere in his home, which suggested Velez brought drugs to his home.

The Medical Examiner declared that Heelen died due to acute intoxication from the combined effects of alcohol, fentanyl, cocaine, and oxycodone.

By providing and using fentanyl with the victim, and then leaving him incapacitated and not calling for medical assistance, Velez created a high degree of likelihood of substantial harm or death to Dennis Heelen, according to the DA’s Office. The DA also went on to say that Velez’s intentional failure to call for help was wanton and reckless and caused the victim’s death. In aggravation of her conduct, she left the victim to die while stealing his car, cell phone, and wallet as she fled to Rhode Island.

“By providing the victim with a lethal combination of drugs, the defendant wantonly and recklessly caused his death,” District Attorney Quinn said. “I am pleased the defendant has been held accountable for her conduct.”

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