A West Valley Superior Court judge threw out a murder charge today filed against an Ontario man who failed to help his girlfriend as she died of a drug overdose.
Prosecutors argued that Andrew Girvan, 32, effectively murdered 23-year-old Miranda Daly on Aug. 13, 2007 because he supplied her with drugs at his Ontario home.
And not only did Girvan fail to help Daly as she lay incapacitated, he also threatened to kill other people at the home who insisted that Daly, of Corona, needed medical attention, prosecutors said.
Judge Mary Fuller apparently disagreed that Girvan’s actions rose to the level of murder, and dismissed the second-degree murder charge.
Girvan’s defense attorney had filed a motion to dismiss both the murder charge and an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Fuller ruled that that Girvan must stand trial for involuntary manslaughter.
The difference between the potential prison sentences for second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter are substantial.
If Girvan were convicted of second-degree murder, he would face a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Involuntary manslaughter carries of sentence of 2, 3 or 4 years.
In her motion to dismiss the charges, Donna Fernandez, Girvan’s attorney, argued that there was no evidence that Girvan forced Daly to ingest the ecstasy and morphine that killed her.
And simply supplying drugs that contribute to death is not tantamount to murder, she argued.
“Handing someone a gun is not the equivalent of shooting them,” Fernandez wrote. “If this evidence is sufficient for the murder charge to lie, anyone who sells or furnishes a drug to someone who subsequently dies will be subject to murder charge if the drug is a contributing factor to their death.
“Such is not the law.”
In his response to Fernandez’s motion, Deputy District Attorney Michael Dowd argued that Girvan’s actions met the standard of “implied malice” necessary for a second-degree murder conviction.
“By giving her the drugs and then standing idly by, he showed a conscious disregard for her life,” Dowd said.
Dowd said that three other people at Girvan’s home saw that Daly was in need of medical attention, and urged Girvan to do something.
He responded angrily to the suggestions, ordering no one to touch Daly and threatening to kill anyone who did. He was also walking around his home with guns, Dowd wrote.
“The defendant stated, ‘When she shops breathing, that’s when we have a problem,’” Dowd wrote. “The victim did stop breathing due to the actions by word and deed of the defendant. He has a problem. He murdered her. He is the cause of her death.”
After the hearing, Daly’s mother, Debbe Case, was visibly upset over the judge’s ruling.
“I’m very shocked,” Case said. “I can’t even process it right now because he clearly, intentionally wanted her to die. It’s clear in all his actions. … How can (Fuller) say there was no intent to murder?”
On Friday, the court set a trial date of Nov. 17 for Girvan’s case.
In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge, Girvan faces a felony firearm possession charge, and two felony charges of possession of drugs for sale.