Appeals court overturns reckless homicide convictions in overdose deaths

The Indiana Court of Appeals has found a La Porte County man should not have been convicted of reckless homicide in the deaths of two people who overdosed at a motel in 2019 due to double jeopardy.

In September 2019, Michigan City Police located the bodies of 26-year-old Christina Rossetti and 29-year-old Zachary Granzo in a hotel room with Jesse Brockman.

Brockman told police Rossetti and Granzo died of drug overdoses.

In 2021, Brockman was convicted of:

  • Dealing methamphetamine
  • Two counts of failure to report human remains
  • Two counts of dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death (related to etizolam)
  • Two counts of reckless homicide
  • One level 5 felony count of dealing in methamphetamine
  • Two counts of dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death (related to methamphetamine)

At sentencing in 2021, the court merged several of the counts and sentenced Brockman to 17 and a half years for dealing methamphetamine, one year each for failure to report a dead body, 30 years each for dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death and three years for dealing in a schedule I controlled substance with the sentences to be served concurrently.

Brockman appealed his conviction.

In June 2022, the Indiana Court of Appeals found there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions related to dealing methamphetamine, dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death related to methamphetamine and his convictions for reckless homicide should be vacated due to double jeopardy.

The court found because Brockman, Rossetti and Granzo were living in the hotel room together and did the drugs together, the drugs were considered to be jointly owned. In addition, there were questions as to who specifically paid for the methamphetamine.

The autopsies on both Rossetti and Granzo showed they overdosed from amphetamine, methamphetamine and ethanol (alcohol). They also had etizolam in their systems at the time of their deaths. The pathologist was unaware of how etizolam interacted with methamphetamine.

Brockman admitted to providing the etizolam, which he thought was heroin.

The court affirmed the convictions of failure to report human remains, and dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death related to etizolam.

The appeals court ordered the lower court to reverse Brockman's convictions for dealing in methamphetamine and dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death related to methamphetamine and to vacate his reckless homicide convictions.

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