Illinois man's trial starts in teen's heroin overdose death -

Illinois man's trial starts in teen's heroin overdose death

EDWARDSVILLE, Illinois (KMOV) -- Testimony began Wednesday in the trial of a Troy, Illinois, man charged with providing heroin to a 17-year-old girl who died from an overdose.

Taylor Kennedy, 20,  is facing a Drug Induced Homicide charge. While others have faced the same charge, it’s said that Kennedy will be the first person to actually go on trial.

Shannon Gaddis died in January, 2011. She was a cheerleader at Triad High School. The Madison County State’s Attorney’s office says that Kennedy and Gaddis were together when Gaddis ingested the heroin purchased and provided by Kennedy. Gaddis later died at the hospital from a drug overdose.

The trial opened after a prosecutor and defense attorney offered differing accounts of circumstances involving Gaddis’ death.

Prosecutor Susan Jensen told jurors that her witnesses will consistently explain that Kennedy bought and delivered the heroin that killed 17-year-old Gaddis.

But defense attorney James Drazen contends Gaddis and a friend grabbed heroin off Kennedy’s lap after he had passed out. Drazen says Kennedy didn’t want to give the heroin to anyone because he wanted it himself.

If convicted, Kennedy faces a penalty of six to 30 years in prison.

According to police, heroin use has escalated in the last few years in St. Louis city. One drug investigator says it is not uncommon to find heroin at high school parties. It can be smoked, snorted or popped in a pill which sells for as little at $10. But police say the heroin today is more potent, more addictive and more lethal than in years past.

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