Family 'hurt' after murder charge dismissed in man's fentanyl overdose death

State plans to appeal

By Louis Bolden - Investigative Reporter

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. - The family of a fatal overdose victim is speaking out after a murder charge was dismissed against an alleged drug dealer.

Prosecutors in Brevard and Seminole counties have led the state in charging drug dealers with murder, but there are now questions about whether the charges will stick.

Gina Ortega often wears a T-shirt with the words, "Justice for my brother Alfonso" on the front. She said so far, justice has not been served. 

"I'm not going to stop fighting," Ortega said.

Winter Springs police arrested 30-year-old Christopher Torro and charged him with murder for allegedly selling a fatal dose of fentanyl to Ortega's brother, Alfonso Pagan, but Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson dismissed the murder charge.

"It was painful," Ortega said.  "It was very hurtful because that's exactly what happened to him."

Last year, a state law was enacted that specifically includes fentanyl in trafficking and murder statutes. If convicted, a dealer can face life in prison or the death penalty.  

However the law took effect Oct. 1 and Pagan died Sept. 23, eight days prior.

"They basically said that he died a week too early for that charge to stand," Ortega said.

Brevard-Seminole State Attorneys have led the state prosecuting drug dealers for murder.

The office has four similarly charged cases where victims died before Oct. 1st, and they plan to move forward prosecuting them, according to Todd Brown, the public information and communications officer.

"We will continue to use every legal means at our disposal to vigorously prosecute anyone who sells or delivers a controlled substance resulting in the death of a member of our community," Brown wrote in an email to News 6. 

Ortega called it a technicality.  "A horrible technicality and we're not going to stop fighting," she said.

Toro is out on bond and still facing drug charges.

Prosecutors say they plan to appeal the dismissal and they will file appeals in the other cases if those murder charges are dismissed.

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