Prosecutor’s overdose leads to murder charge for suspected drug dealer, NC cops say

The 2019 overdose death of a Western North Carolina prosecutor has led to charges for a man suspected of dealing drugs, cops say.


Rodney Hasty was chief assistant district attorney for Buncombe County when officials say he died on Oct. 12, 2019.

A document listed his cause of death as “fentanyl and ethanol toxicity,” the Citizen-Times and WLOS reported.

Now, the Buncombe Sheriff’s Office has taken a man into custody in connection with the prosecutor’s death. Deputies say Brandon Lewis Glenn Neels is facing charges of second-degree murder and felony possession with intent to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance.

The sheriff’s office didn’t respond to a request from McClatchy News for information.

As of Friday morning, deputies said Neels was in jail with a bond set at $500,000.

On Twitter, the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office said it “will take and has taken no role in the investigation or prosecution of this case.” Instead, officials say a prosecutor from a nearby county is handling the case.

Hasty was 50 years old when he died of an overdose at his home in the Weaverville area, north of Asheville, WLOS reported. Upon hearing about the former prosecutor’s cause of death, District Attorney Todd Williams issued a statement on Twitter.

“These results remind us that addiction doesn’t have boundaries and can ensnare anyone no matter how high achieving and competent they may be,” Williams wrote in Dec. 2019. “Rodney’s passing has left a huge void in the community he served and while the District Attorney’s Office is shocked and saddened to learn of the results of the autopsy we also know that Rodney’s many gifts to our community, to the DA’s Office, and to the work of justice reform will endure.”

Officials say one of the substances in Hasty’s system was fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. In recent years, a rising number of overdose deaths have been connected to the painkillers.

People with ties to North Carolina have gone to court after authorities accused them of giving drugs to people who died.

A Raleigh man was sentenced to federal prison earlier this year after officials say an expectant dad got opioids from him and died, the News & Observer reported.

And in 2019, a doctor from North Carolina was convicted after a federal jury determined the opioids he “prescribed to a woman from West Virginia caused her death,” the Department of Justice said.

*story by The Charlotte Observer