HILLSBORO, Ore- On May 15, 2024, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Erwin found Jair Leyva Noriega, age 21, guilty of Manslaughter in the Second Degree and Unlawful Delivery of a Schedule II Controlled Substance to a Minor in a bench trial. He was sentenced to 75 months in prison which will run consecutively to a prior sentence of 13 months in prison on domestic violence-related charges, for a combined prison sentence of 88 total months. Senior Deputy District Attorney Andrew Freeman prosecuted this case. 

This verdict is a rare occurrence in Oregon. Unlike some states and federal law, Oregon does not have a crime that specifically addresses drug dealers who cause overdose deaths. Sometimes the crime of criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter can be charged. However, those cases are rare and require specific evidence. To date, the Washington County DA’s Office is aware of only two other manslaughter convictions in Oregon of a drug dealer who caused a fatal overdose (State v. Tariq Knapper, 21CR06963 in Washington County, and State v. Thomas Turner, 23CR05595 in Linn County).

The defendant was an active drug dealer on probation for a prior domestic violence incident. In June of 2023, he sold fentanyl pills twice to a 17-year-old boy. After the first deal, the defendant warned the teenager to “take it slow” with the pills because he had put “good money” into making this batch of illicit drugs. The second deal occurred a few nights later when the defendant secretly delivered the drugs directly to the victim at the family’s home in rural Washington County. The next morning the victim’s grandparents found him deceased in the kitchen with drug paraphernalia in arms reach. There were two more counterfeit fentanyl pills, known as “blues,” in the victim’s bedroom, and the medical examiner later determined the teenager died of acute fentanyl toxicity. The Westside Interagency Narcotics (WIN) Team then responded to the scene and began an investigation that led to the defendant’s apprehension. 

When rendering his verdict, Judge Andy Erwin compared the defendant’s behavior to handing a loaded gun to a 17-year-old to play Russian Roulette. Judge Erwin further said, “It is a scourge in our community that these drugs have become so deadly and taken so many lives, of which [the victim] is one.”

“Holding drug dealers accountable for the harm they cause in our community is a priority,” said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton. “While many of Oregon’s laws were enacted long before the current fentanyl crisis, we are finding ways to apply old laws to new challenges. Sending dangerous drug dealers to prison will save lives.”

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of the Westside Interagency Narcotics (WIN) Team on this case. This office also extends our deepest sympathies to the family of the teenage victim.

Media contact information
Stephen Mayer
Public Information Officer
May 20, 2024