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Man pleads guilty to homicide in fentanyl death and other charges

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Joshua Benjamin Stewart, age 18, was arrested by Bellingham Police on July 21st after attempting to shoplift from a Bellingham retail store. He was also a suspect in a January overdose death of a 16-year-old and was subsequently charged with related crimes.

According to Whatcom County Superior Court documents, Stewart pled guilty this week to felony charges of controlled substance homicide, possession of controlled substances, possession of a stolen vehicle and retail theft. He was sentenced October 26th to 7 years in custody on the homicide charge and lesser terms to be served concurrently on the other charges. He was also ordered to pay $500 in court fees. Other felony charges of retail theft and delivery of counterfeit substances were dropped.

State sentencing guidelines place the standard range for confinement between 68 and 100 months with a maximum of 10 years.

According to documents filed with the court, trace amounts of fentanyl were found in the victim by the Medical Examiner’s Office and pills were found in the victim’s bedroom that tested positive for fentanyl.

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Investigators said soon after beginning the investigation they were contacted by acquaintances of Stewart who reported he was making comments about having sold the victim drugs and feeling responsible for the overdose death.

An online conversation obtained from the victim’s cellphone showed the victim arranging to meet the Stewart 2 days before the overdose. This exchange was followed by Stewart advising the victim, “don’t do a lot seriously.”

The Whatcom County Gang and Drug Task Force reported purchasing fentanyl-laced counterfeit Oxycodone pills, clonazolam-laced counterfeit Xanax pills and heroin from Stewart in February.

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