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26-year-old charged with murder in connection with fentanyl overdose death of Yucca Valley man


A 26-year-old Joshua Tree man was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the fentanyl overdose of a 33-year-old last year.

The investigation dates back to Nov. 2, 2022, when deputies responded to the death of Steven Lockhart of Yucca Valley. The death was determined to be an overdose, prompting the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Gangs/Narcotics Division's Overdose Response Team (ORT) to assume the investigation.

Investigators identified Nicholas Koeller, 26, as the suspect.

After the investigation was completed and autopsy results were received, the case was presented to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office and murder charges were filed.

Koeller was arrested on Thursday and booked at the Morongo Basin Station Jail, where he is being held on $1,070,000 bail.

The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Gangs/Narcotics Division. Callers can remain anonymous and contact WeTip at 800-78CRIME or

In February 2021, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department created a pilot program in response to the growing epidemic of overdose deaths from opioids. In July 2022, a full-time Overdose Response Team (ORT) was created, and additional resources were dedicated to the team. The team consists of investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office Bureau of Investigation.

Drug trafficking organizations are producing counterfeit pharmaceutical pills containing fentanyl and putting fentanyl in drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Due to this trend, there has been an unprecedented rise in drug overdose deaths in San Bernardino County and across the country, especially with our youth.

San Bernardino County data from the California Department of Public Health

Signs of an Overdose
Recognizing the signs of opioid overdose can save a life. Here are some things to look for:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or losing consciousness
  • Slow, weak, or no breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Cold and/or clammy skin
  • Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails)

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Article Topic Follows: Fentanyl Crisis

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Jesus Reyes


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