Death Resulting: New podcast follows a drug deal that leads to death, revealing hard questions about "death resulting" laws
When a drug deal leads to death, is that murder? Follow this story in NHPR's new season of Document, our investigative reporting project.
Concord, NH - There’s a ripple effect to fatal drug overdoses – families and communities are damaged along with the victim, sometimes irreparably, when a life is cut short by opioids.
Death Resulting, the latest season of New Hampshire Public Radio’s Document podcast, takes on this provocative question:
Two friends share drugs. One overdoses and dies. The other survives. Is that murder?
Prosecutors are increasingly answering “yes” to that question. They are deploying so-called “death resulting” laws to treat overdose deaths as homicides. Some in law enforcement characterize the use of this long-buried legal provision as “sending a message to drug dealers” – but as Reporter/Host Jason Moon and the Document team report, it’s not that simple. Many people prosecuted under these laws are addicted to opioids themselves - and the deterrent value of such convictions is questioned even at the highest levels of the legal community.
The four-episode series, debuting Dec. 8, 2021, follows the case of Josh, a young man facing a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison for his friend’s death. Moon examines forces that shape such cases, including a cycle of generational trauma and addiction, as well as the racist origins and impacts of these prosecutions.
The series is an intriguing shift of focus for Moon, who is well known for his deft handling of what he calls “the twists and turns of a typical crime narrative.” Death Resulting looks closely at the context of overdose deaths - and it challenges listeners to consider whether a hunger for meting out punishment may ultimately create more victims in the country’s deepening addiction and overdose crisis.
Jason Moon is a Senior Reporter/Producer on New Hampshire Public Radio’s Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders to presidential elections to secret lists of misbehaving police officers. His work includes Bear Brook, which has been downloaded more than 17 million times and received acclaim from The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Buzzfeed, The Verge, Vulture, Minnesota Public Radio, and others.
The podcast will also be aired on New Hampshire Public Radio in two hour-long specials on February 2 and 3, 2022.
12/8/21 Episode 1. The crime
After an early morning drug deal in a hotel bathroom ends in tragedy, Josh is charged under the federal death resulting law — a growing strategy for prosecutors — and faces a sentence of two decades or longer.
12/15/21 Episode 2. Launching a war
In 1986, Congress laid down the legal foundation for the War on Drugs. Buried deep in that 35-year-old law was the death resulting law — a penalty little used until the opioid epidemic and now disproportionately impacting people of color.
12/22/21 Episode 3. They don’t know what I’ve done to him
So-called death resulting laws seek to punish a single person — the drug dealer — for an overdose death. This episode explores the events and forces that brought Josh to a hotel bathroom that would become the site of a fatal overdose.
12/29/21 Episode 4. You gotta have an opinion
Attorneys for the federal government and Josh collide in a dramatic courtroom debate that traces the history of Josh’s family, America’s “War on Drugs,” and the ethics of death resulting laws themselves. In the end, a judge hands Josh a sentence. Does the outcome equal justice?
Reporter/Host: Jason Moon
Executive Producer: Jack Rodolico
Associate Producer: Callan Tansill-Suddath
Lead Editor: Dan Barrick
Editing assistance: Rebecca Lavoie, Lauren Chooljian, Todd Bookman, Felix Poon, Christina Phillips, Gabrielle Healy
Graphics & Distribution: Sara Plourde
New Hampshire Public Radio recently announced a partnership with Stitcher, the Triton-ranked #1 podcast company and SiriusXM (NASDAQ: SIRI) subsidiary. The national marketing agreement will include Death Resulting, as well as the station’s most popular podcasts, such as Bear Brook, Civics 101, Outside/In, and previous Document seasons.
Document is a narrative-driven reporting project committed to long-form, enterprise and investigative journalism. Document projects will be primarily reported by the Document team in NHPR’s newsroom, helmed by Jason Moon, host of the hit NHPR podcast Bear Brook, and Lauren Chooljian, co-host of NHPR’s award-winning Strangleholdpodcast.
Document underscores NHPR’s commitment to delving deeper in our journalism and uncovering stories that matter.