Drugs Lead to Accidental Manslaughter

By: Carrie Cline Email
By: Carrie Cline Email

He said he didn’t mean to do it, but Joseph Harris’ actions landed him in jail charged with manslaughter.

According to police, a city officer stopped Harris for questioning in mid-may regarding a drug investigation, but Harris took off running. That's when another officer, Dave Poling who worked for probation, chased him into the Ohio River and drowned.

“I'm going to lose my only son to prison because of the drugs in these infested cities and when the kids are begging for help, they won't give them none,” Joseph’s father Tom Harris said.

He said he raised his son right, on a farm in the country, but it was when his son moved away and got mixed up with the wrong crowd that everything changed.

“He never was on drugs until he got here. It's a nice community, but it's not just here drugs are everywhere,” Tom Harris said.

Justin Presley knows the drug trap. We met the teenager two years ago. Then, he was getting treatment and moving toward a drug-free life, but he remembered how the destructive lifestyle nearly killed him.

“I was violent and hateful,” Presley said.

Denise Smith is a licensed psychologist specializing in children and adolescents. She says it's important for parents to monitor their children and teens and seek help at the first signs of potential drug abuse.

She said some signs include dressing and acting differently or their grades go down.

It's a message Jamie Murdoch, Joseph’s mother, can't stress enough.

“Be open to your children and know where they are at all times and when they're out and what they're doing,” Murdoch said.

For this family and that of Officer Dave Poling, the damage is done. Now, they're hoping something good can come out of this drug-induced tragedy.

“It's good for Joey--maybe he can get the help he needs. He's clearly been on drugs and has been for a long time,” Tom Harris said, “He just needs some help and I hope this is the way he's going to get it, to get him straightened out.”

Joseph Harris was charged with first degree manslaughter and obstruction. He waived his preliminary hearing. His attorney said he will plead guilty to a lesser degree of manslaughter

He will only spend a maximum of four years in prison.

There are number of drug treatment programs available if you suspect your child is caught up in drugs.

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