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Ex-con accused of supplying deadly dose of fentanyl to teen arraigned

James Dailey
James Dailey

A probationer accused of providing a fatal dose of fentanyl to a 15-year-old girl pleaded not guilty today to second-degree murder and other charges.

James Leon Dailey, 51, of Banning was arrested last month following a Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigation into the death of the teen girl, also of Banning.

Along with murder, Dailey is charged with child cruelty and a sentence-enhancing allegation of causing the death of minor.   

He was arraigned before Superior Court Judge Joshlyn Pulliam, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for Sept. 1 at the Banning Justice Center.

The defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the nearby Smith Correctional Facility.

According to sheriff's Sgt. Sean Liebrand, in mid-January, the girl was reported missing by her family, culminating in an investigation that led to the Hathaway Creek area on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians' reservation.  

"Upon arrival, deputies located a deceased female in the backseat of a vehicle,'' Liebrand said.

He said that investigators quickly confirmed the victim's identity.   

The coroner's bureau ultimately determined that the teen died as a result of fentanyl poisoning.

Central Homicide Unit detectives began gathering evidence, which pointed to Dailey as the alleged supplier of the fentanyl. The convicted felon was arrested and charged in the case in mid-June.

It was unclear how long Dailey and the teen had been acquainted, or the nature of their relationship.

According to court records, the defendant has prior convictions for arson, domestic violence, false imprisonment, burglary and felony evading. He has served time in state prison.

Since February 2021, more than two dozen people countywide have been charged in connection with fentanyl poisonings.   

According to public safety officials, there were 503 confirmed fentanyl-related fatalities countywide last year, compared to just under 400 in 2021, a 200-fold increase from 2016, when there were only two.

Check Out: I-Team: Coachella Valley has more fentanyl-related deaths than anywhere in Riverside County

Fentanyl is manufactured in overseas labs, principally in China, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which says the synthetic opioid is smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by cartels. The drug is 80-100 times more potent than morphine and can be mixed into any number of street narcotics and prescription drugs, without a user knowing what he or she is consuming. Ingestion of only two milligrams can be fatal.   

Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 years old, statistics show.

In May, Karen Devine investigated local efforts to combat the fentanyl crisis in the Coachella Valley. Hear from Riverside County DA Mike Hestrin and State Assemblymember Greg Wallis, as well as a parent who lost their child, in her special report, "Fatal Flaw."

If you or someone you know has an addiction problem and is looking for some help, we've included some information on local resources for you. 

RECOVER - Online addiction treatment for alcohol and opioid use

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Article Topic Follows: Fentanyl Crisis

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