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Crime & Courts

Heroin laced with fentanyl found in bedroom of Marengo woman who overdosed, forensic expert says

WOODSTOCK — Some of the small plastic baggies found in a basement bedroom where a Marengo woman overdosed in October 2015 contained heroin laced with fentanyl, a forensic scientist said as part of a drug-induced homicide trial this week.

Prosecutors contend that Chelsie Kumm, 20, bought a fatal dose of heroin from Durelle J. Hall of Woodstock on Oct. 6, 2015, and overdosed that evening. Hall was charged with drug-induced homicide and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

After Kumm’s boyfriend’s mother, Laurie Cool, found her in the basement bedroom, she called 911 and police and paramedics arrived. Their efforts, which included administering CPR and Narcan, which can reverse the effects of an overdose, to revive Kumm were unsuccessful.

Police recovered several small plastic baggies that contained heroin and residue from the drug, as well as needles and cooking instruments.

Brandon Smedley, Kumm’s boyfriend, previously said the pink baggies pictured in photos shown to jurors were not there earlier that day, and he only ever got bags such as that from Hall.

Some of the plastic bags were sent to the Illinois State Police Rockford Forensic Science Laboratory for further testing.

Martin Skelcy, a forensic scientist with the Illinois State Police who testified as an expert, took the stand Friday and said he tested four pink baggies, three red and white baggies and a blue plastic bag, in addition to a pill bottle. These were the only items sent to the lab to be examined, he said.

Skelcy said after testing the four pink baggies he was able to confirm heroin was present in each one. He also said the first pink bag he tested also showed the presence of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a potent, synthetic opioid that is sometimes mixed with heroin.

“Over the last couple years, it’s becoming more common,” he said, when he was asked by prosecutors if the mixture was something he usually sees.

Prosecutors have said fentanyl and heroin were in Kumm’s blood stream at the time of her death.

Skelcy did not test the other three bags to see if there was fentanyl there, but said there was a “possible presence” based on the contents of the first bag. Defense attorneys questioned why the other bags also weren’t tested for fentanyl.

He said the red and white bags also contained heroin, but he did not detect fentanyl. The blue bag had a possible presence of heroin, he said.

The trial before Judge Sharon Prather will continue at 9 a.m. Monday. The case is expected to continue next week.

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