At the end of her statement to the court this afternoon as her daughter’s killer, Joseph Colon, agreed to a plea, Renee Deangelis addressed Colon directly: “Mr. Colon, your children are in our prayers,” Deangelis said.
Colon has a 7-year-old daughter. Her mother died of a heroin overdose in September 2018, less than year after Colon had sold Savannah Deangelis the $40 doses of heroin on which she almost immediately overdosed at her home, falling into a coma and never waking up. She died in November 2017. She was 23.
In a historic first, Flagler County today became one of the few counties in the nation to have successfully prosecuted a drug dealer for murder in the death of a client. Last week, before the same judge, the county made history for being the first in Florida to hold a criminal trial in person since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic.
Just before Circuit Court Judge Terence Perkins accepted his plea and sentenced him to 30 years in prison, Colon, for his part referred to himself twice as a “scapegoat” for the opioid crisis, ridiculing the plea to which he was agreeing.
He had been indicted on a first-degree murder charge for the death of Deangelis, pursuant to a relatively new Florida law, similar to others in the country, making drug dealers liable for the death of their clients. He faced life in prison. With DeAngelis’s family’s approval, Colon pleaded to second-degree murder and a 30-year prison sentence. With the thousand days he’s already served at the county jail and the allowance for early release after serving 85 percent of his sentence, the 30-year sentence will actually equate to 22 more years.
The hearing was brief. It was conducted partly in person, with the judge in the courtroom for a series of hearings, and Colon and other inmates appearing by a live feed from the jail. Other than the attorneys–the case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton–who also appeared from a remote link, only one other person addressed the court.
It was never clear either to the attorneys or even to Colon who William Baughman is. The man, who appeared to be in his 30s, stood at the podium, almost in tears, trying to collect himself. He was speaking on behalf of Colon. “I’m really nervous, I’m heartbroken right now,” he told the court. “No one one here wins in this situation.” He spoke of addiction being a “very hard thing to break,” and as something that “leads you to do things that’s not aligned with your character nor how you were raised with your morals.” Referring to Colon’s children, he said, “there’s going to be a lot of devastation.”
The devastation has been taking its toll for almost three years, particularly on the Deangelis family. Renee and Chip Deangelis, Savannah’s parents, have since joined the county’s opioid task force and Flagler County’s chapter of Open Arms Recovery, chairing both organizations’ education committees, and have been active in bringing awareness and seeking means to battle the opioid epidemic.
Renee Deangelis devoted her statement today in part to thanking a list of people and organizations that prosecuted the case, including the deputies and first responders who responded to her house “with diligence and kindness” that October afternoon when Savannah overdosed, to former detective Nicole Quintieri, “an angel who is much needed” (Quintieri runs the sheriff’s Police Athletic League), to Sheriff Rick Staly for running a “compassionate” department, to the State Attorney’s Office. She then described her work now as a “crusade,” and today’s sentencing as bringing the community “one step closer to eradicating” the problem. (See Deangelis’s full statement here.)
“This will never be tolerated in this county and you will be stopped,” Deangelis said, addressing dealers in general.
The words contrasted bleakly with the situation since Savannah’s death. “In the last 20 months,” Staly said less than an hour later at a news conference on the case, “deputies have responded to 224 overdoses, and we have deployed 115 doses of Narcan” the neutralizing agent that restores breathing patterns in victims of overdoses, “saving countless lives. We have investigated 27 fatal overdose deaths. As you can see from those numbers, we have a drug-addiction problem in Flagler County–not as bad as some other areas, but one overdose or one death is one too many. We need more treatment facilities and programs available in Flagler County. The state needs to better fund treatment programs in residential beds. The addiction is a medical problem that needs to be solved with treatment. The selling of poison is a criminal matter, and if you’re a drug dealer, we are going to do our part to stop you and arrest you.”
Colon himself had sold drugs to at least two other individuals who overdosed but survived, according to State Attorney R. J. Larizza.
during the plea hearing thanked the court but quickly went on to delivering what amounted to a polemic about the prosecution of the opoid crisis. “So many people play their part in these overdoses,” he said, citing a former Flagler County circuit judge by name and others. “If you honestly think justice was transpired today I’m sorry for you,” he said.
Absent from his statement was a single note of remorse or reflection about his own role in DeAngelis’s death.
At 2:30, Staly and Larizza held a press conference about the case three floors below the courtroom. Both excoriated Colon for not taking responsibility for his role. “He couldn’t actually accept full responsibility for his action,” Larizza said, saying he sees it frequently with defendants: they deflect responsibility.
“Colon needs to look in the mirror and take for once in his life responsibility for his actions,” Staly said, noting he wished Colon would “rot” in prison.
“While we can never bring Savannah back to her family–and I cannot imagine the pain that you are bearing–I hope today brings you some closure, knowing that the person that sold the illegal drugs and took Savannah away from you is going away for a long time,” Staly told Savannah’s parents, who both attended. “While 30 years is a long time, it’s still not enough when you know he sentenced Savannah to death by his action to make a buck.”
Staly said every overdose case is investigated, and “every fatal overdose is investigated as a murder,” he said. “We’re going to arrest you for murder every time we can, and we have e number of cases pending with the State Attorney’s Office now.”
Deangelis addressed the matter of responsibilities.
“It’s my understanding that the dealer pursued people who were vulnerable. He had a reputation for doing that, apparently,” Deangelis said, “and what was in the heroin that my daughter took was fentanyl. That is deadly, and anybody who is dealing heroin with heroin knows that. As was said earlier, he had left other people behind, left to die, there were other witnesses who had used the same drug he had given my daughter.” She said with all that combined, “there is so much accountability there than your normal drug deal, I would say, that’s just an exchange of drugs, an exchange of money. There was knowledge leading up to this of what he was apparently doing. I think that’s the difference of where the responsibility lies on him much more than in a normal situation like this.”
Deangelis also addressed the role of Project WARM, the Stewart-Marchman rehab facility where Savannah had been an in-patient resident, and from where she had been given a four-day pass during the Hurricane Irma emergency, even though she did not qualify for one, and even though her home was in a flood and evacuation zone, near the Intracoastal, as Project WARM in Bunnell was not. It was during that furlough that Savannah briefly relapsed. She owned up to it when back at Project WARM, and for that, was kicked out, briefly jailed, and two days after she was jailed, received the drugs from Colon.
“I hold them accountable equally as much,” Deangelis said of Project WARM. “This situation with Mr. Colon was brought on by the state of Florida. The situation with Project WARM to me would be more of a civil situation, and personally, I absolutely hold them responsible also, because that is where the ball started rolling, so to speak, for Savannah, for things to become like they did.”
Today is International Overdose Awareness Day.
[This is a developing story. More soon.]
Reinhold Schlieper says
If the relatively small county of Flagler has experienced 224 calls for overdose problems and if 27 people died during the last 20 months, one should attempt to rethink the problem. The approach of increasing penalties on dealers is ultimately too simplistic. It almost seems as though one is asking the irresponsible person who deals to be responsible enough to see that none dies. Somehow that does not seem either to work or even make sense, does it? Making sure that the user knows that s/he will be seen as a victim and not a criminal should be the first step to encouraging addicts to seek help without penalty. Treating addicts to a measured amount of what they are addicted to supervised by medical personnel makes one heck of a lot more sense to me. To create that kind of trust, the helper should not be wearing a uniform of force and intimidation; the helper should be wearing a medical uniform. Taking the funds from the police budget to give to medical intervention might lead to a lot less heartbreak.
He got his end of his accountability & responsibility. Those that released Savannah Deangelis are complicit in that incompetence. As I understand it, the woman was under a facilities care, they released her during a hurricane evacuation from an area that was not an evacuation zone to an area where evacuation was ordered. Does that really make any sense ? The deceased was obviously not allowed weekend passes prior to being released. There are crickets when it comes to that level of accountability & responsibility and for Staly to acknowledge that fact.
“We need more treatment facilities and programs available in Flagler County. The state needs to better fund treatment programs in residential beds. The addiction is a medical problem that needs to be solved with treatment.”
Perhaps, his hands are tied by the State prosecution. Just me, but similarly if the elderly that died in South FL from the incompetence of those that operate a facility, I see no difference in this for holding those accountable & responsible for Savannah Deangelis any less liable. As I also understand it, the woman’s family wanted her to remain at the facility, yet all of this was ignored and she was released to eventually pay the ultimate price for the experts handling her crisis. This woman’s blood is on all their hands, & certainly her own personal choices as contributory. So Colon got his sentence as the state laws outline & plea deals allow. He is right, he got the entire load as the sole scapegoat here. The rest of them are free of their contributory share(s) of incarceration, empowered by their arguments of a lack of funding or whatever else, with promises to endeavor to do better with a broken & an unaffordable healthcare system.
Awwww poor mr no remorse to cobtributing to who knows how many deaths and ruined lives is a scapegoat. Feel so sorry for you. Have a nice stay
he didn’t kill people not even savannah. people with an addiction fight that everyday, so did my dad.
Your Dad was an addict and a Dealer. He will get sober now. See hes even affected your life greatly. I wish you well.
He did cut his drugs with fentinol so in that respect he is a murderer.
Take a good look says
Yes, Joey was the scapegoat indeed. He is just as much a victim of his addiction as Savannah was. Both he and Savannah struggled with their addictions, yet I neglect to see anyone point out Savannah’s culpability in her own demise. I will say it again. Drug addicts do what drug addicts do. What if the shoe were on the other foot? I wonder what the outcome would have been then? Joey was intentionally made an example of a law that is extraordinarily unjust, and needs to be amended where “the punishment fits the crime.” There are victims on BOTH sides of the fence here. Joey’s five children.. THEY are the innocent victims in this whole fiasco. What they have had to, and continue to endure is truly heartbreaking. And now left to try to make sense of it all. As a professional who works in the field of addictions, it is amazing the ignorance and lack of understanding that continues to permeate the minds of our community. Shameful! God bless all the victims, and especially the little ones of Joey.
thank you. i appreciate someone who sees the situation for what it is, everyone so ignorant and caught up in her death that they fail to realize there was help needed on both sides. i’m sorry that her addiction killed her but my dad didn’t murder her, i don’t care what anyone says
Whatever, I’m sure you’ll be fine for all of the turmoil that you’re going thru.
He did KILL her!
Kids will be better off not living with a heroin addict.
It’s funny how so many people have Opinions yet have blood stained hands. So when your child kills a family by drinking and driving does the bar get charged with the sale of too many drinks to that now Impaired person who gets behind the wheel? It’s very funny that people look for grace when they are of need yet have none to give when it’s another person at stake. A true statement made as the man lay beaten and robbed again the Levite seeing the man then passed alongside the other side of the road. So now we see your truth
We will never forget says
Funny, how Palm Coast judicial system can put a black man away for 30 years for selling a bag of heroin to a white girl who OD’S on her own accord, but that same judicial system couldn’t send a local doctor who we all know that gave out pills to many people in Palm Coast over the years and one young lady died from those pills because she became addicted, and that doctor knew she was addicted. You all remember who that doctor was . They took his license but he served NO PRISON time. Because this county covered it up.
I once saw this loser doctor take hands full of pills himself in his office when he thought no one was watching. The parents of that young lady to this day still morn their daughter and still can’t believe the courts let him go……….. Oh, the doctor…..Dr. Fru*****
Drug Dealers need to pay for their crimes. But it makes me a little uneasy to see drug dealers who sell drugs to well off Caucasians who die as a result of their addictions get dealt different consequences as drug dealers who sell their product to addicts who are People of Color who often happen to be less financially and/or socially advantaged.
Bull Ony says
Joey’s girlfriend died from an overdose. But she was a known dealer and user, not wealthy like Savanah. Therefore they never went after her dealer. Sad to see so much hypocrisy. So many lives lost to addiction. My heart breaks every time. So many overdoses’, why aren’t you going after all of those dealers for murder. Nope, choose to make an example out of Joey. My heart goes out to all involved, and all those who continue to struggle with addiction.
Take a good look says
Yes, you are so right Maria. Your dad was NEVER a killer. He is and always will be a kind-hearted man, faithful to the Lord, and a very loving father to you and your younger siblings. ALWAYS speak out for what is true and just, and hold hope in your heart for change in the future. Voices NEED to be heard, and changes need to be made. This is just the beginning…. of changes to come. And just know that you have MANY, MANY people who are right here with you….who agree with you, and support you….there are multitudes of families going through the same thing. Just know that with passion and perseverance, change CAN happen, for your dad and others. Hold your head up, stand proud, and know we are here with you all the way.
Another one lost says
Mr. Colon has been arrested 10 times and has had 14 felony charges (mostly related to DEALING drugs) in the last 10 years. I think everyone is getting hung up on the fact that he was charged with murder. If you take that out of the mix he was still facing five felony charges that had nothing to do with Savannah. When he was arrested after a traffic stop the cops found a literal pharmacy in his car. Crack, heroin, hydromorphone etc. He was facing over 50 years for all of those charges. Just a regular, kind hearted, faithful to the lord innocent guy with a drug problem? I beg to differ.
30 yrs is tough. But people and addicts (and their parents) have to stop blaming the dealers. If she didn’t get it from him, she would find it elsewhere. I don’t see Budweiser execs going to prison after a DUI death. But with dope it seems to be the american way, blame others, never take responsibility.
Alcohol last time I checked was LEGAL. DUI not so much legal. But your point is that you are ill informed
C’mon man says
Beer is legal, heroin isn’t. Big difference.
Reinhold Schlieper says
All that shows is that you will be obedient to the will of the public. I don’t find that at all bad, but sometimes we need to think outside of the common box and to plan for the future. If you know your history, you’ll know about Prohibition, when beer was illegal. What would you have said then?
So I guess the next time a federal dealer sells a gun to a person, they might be charged with murder if that person kills another. This is crap. Where is the responsibly of the user? I bet no one forced this person to become a junkie. Just her bad choice caused her death. The seller should be prosecuted fir the sale, but not the death. That was her choice.
This is so sad. I myself have been clean from heroin for 6 years but I would NEVER have blamed the dealer for any of my overdoses. They are caught up in addiction just as much as the users are and most actually sell drugs to pay for their own addiction.
The thing I despise about this article is that they didn’t bother holding Savannah accountable at all. They made her seem like a victim of circumstance. While it’s truly tragic what transpired, 30 years is way too harsh. He’s already served A THOUSAND days in jail. He needs to be at home with his family. Maria, I hope you and your family are doing well and you will be in my thoughts. Let your dad know there are people out there who don’t believe this bull that is being spun
Disgusted in Flagler County says
Are you people out of your effing minds???!!!!! You’re making Colon, out to be some kind of victim who received an unfair sentence. WTF???? He’s a disgusting, drug dealing, murderer, point blank! He broke the law by selling drugs and his crime should definitely be punished to the fullest extent of the law and that’s that. What the hell is all of this boo hoo for Mr. Colon???? Who cares seriously! If he gave two craps about his kids lives and his own life he would have done better for himself period. You bunch of whiney ass Democrats. AND by the way poor Joey, isn’t black you genius, he’s Hispanic, so enough with the boo hoo, poor, black guy getting treated unfairly crap. He broke the law period! And his sentence fits his crimes.
Take a good look says
Joey IS just as much a victim, as YOU are iGNORANT of the millions
Of people struggling with addiction. And yes he is 50 percent latino, but the other 50 percent of him is black. There are none so BLIND as those who refuse to SEE. Maybe you should know the whole story before throwing out such a prejudiced post????
Another one lost says
The “Whole” story is that Colon was facing 110 years in Prison for all of the crimes that he committed. There were at least 2 witnesses that were prepared to testify that after they overdosed in Colon’s presence and he simply left them. Luckily they didn’t die, but one is permanently deaf as a direct result of the drugs that Colon sold her. The “Whole” story is that Colon continued to sell his poison for a full week after Savannah’s overdose. He was arrested as she lay in a coma in the hospital. She was taken off of life support a few days later. The “whole” store is that Colon took the 30 year plea deal because he knew that if it went to trial he would have probably gotten life. As Savannah’s mother so eloquently put it “Drug dealing is not a career and you will be caught”. Colon obviously didn’t get the memo….
We will Never Forget says
Actually he is half hispanic and half black. No one is saying he didn’t sell drugs. Some are saying he doesn’t deserve 30 years. He DID NOT stick a needle in that young lady’s arm…SHE DID !!!! And did you stand and bitch about that doctor who supplied PILLS to hundreds of Palm Coast citizens that got addicted, and the courts let him slide on jail sentence ? Nope, I’m not a democrat and I really don’t give a rats ass about your racist opinion but at least MAN UP to OVER SENTENCING for the crime.
I appreciate that Ann and i’ll let him know. it’s honestly bs they gave him this sentence and for people to sit around and say he deserves life … i hope your family goes through the same tragedy. no one has remorse until it’s them in the situation lol then it’s a different story right. anyways, no one is innocent in this situation but my dad is NO murderer.
It’s not about a drug dealer selling drugs to a drug addict, this was a drug dealer that sold a mixed drug that caused a fatality in the interest of increasing profits. Fentanyl is mixed by unknown people, in unknown quantities, that are causing deaths and who can be held accountable?
Ultimatley the pereon consuming the unregulated substance is responsible for his or her self and no one else, they sell test kits for users to test their drugs to make sure they are what they paid for.
TOM REYNOLDS says
HIS SENTECE WAS TOO LIGHT …. LARAZZA IS SOFT ON CRIMINALS PERIOD!
NON YA says
I bought/sold drugs with Joey for many years. He aside from his addiction, is a great guy. Blaming the dealer for someone OD’ing is ridiculous. Should he go to prison for dealing? Sure. But in no way is he a murderer. She bought the drugs, she knew the risks. He didn’t know she would take to much. I hold the powers that be more responsible than him. They knew she wasn’t ready for weekend pass. There was no reason to give her one. The rehab was not in a danger zone, however, her family home was. Where is the logic in that? Drugs are terrible, I learned the hard way. I went away for what I did. Thank goodness no one died from me selling to them, but it could have easily been me. What about Joey’s youngest daughter’s mother? She OD’ed and no one went after her dealer! No one cared cause she was just some random junkie, she didn’t live in Grand Haven. money makes all the difference, not race, not color, Money. My prayers to the family of the young lady that passed away. And my prayers to ALL Joey’s girls. Maria, you are beautiful, keep your head up, and take care of your sisters. Love you Kiddo.
Good Riddance to Joey Colon. Flush that turd. Career drug dealer with ties to several more deaths. Hope Staley finds those and the evidence to get his friends. One more small step to a better flagler.
It's Enough says
These posts are over the top at this point. It’s enough hate, misinformation and ignorance surrounding the disease of addiction. I am a professional in the Field of Addictions and have worked in this field since 1978 as a counselor, therapist, Supervisor, Director of Clinical Services , Executive Director, and Author and Educator. I have taught addiction courses at the University of Miami and UCF. I have seen addiction strike my own family as I had a brother who was a heroin addict for decades. Given all of this background I have a few things to say from this unique vantage point. First of all, Addiction is a family disease not the failings of an individual. There is a biological component, a social component , and a genetic predisposition to this disease. Remember, you cannot have a dealer without a user who seeks out the drugs. It is easy to vilify the dealer and align their feelings with the user. He was no better no worse than she. They both played a role in this tragedy and that is what this is…a tragedy for the victims and there are many many many more than you realize. Her parents, His Children, her friends , his family….this has touched many lives as it usually does and looking to blame and hate helps no one better understand or prevent this from happening again. No one made Mr Colon sell drugs to this woman and he certainly did not “kill her”. Her choice to abuse heroin was hers and hers alone. His choice to sell it to her was his and his alone. She gave up her life in pursuit of her addiction and he gave up 30 years of his freedom. They BOTH have come to that place where we all must accept the responsibility of our choices. They have both accepted these consequences whether it is fair or not. We must now LEAVE this online back and forth that oozes hate and ignorance alone. Say prayers for all that have to go on…whether it is the woman’s family, or his family. They do not deserve anything negative …they need and deserve our love, support and understanding. There would never be a Dealer if there wasn’t an addict and there cannot be a sadist without a masochist. Each played a role in this Flagler Tragedy. Negative comments that try and de-humanize this man…whether it is from the hate filled individuals on this site or the sad words from our elected sheriff…this is a MAN who now faces 30 years away from his loved ones who are also the victims. The deceased woman’s family is also righteous in their pain and loss, but to forgo the responsibility in the loss of their daughters life helps no one. She was an addict…he was the supplier. Neither was right but neither was/is a monster.
Before you continue the horrible words that only continue to wound and hurt as much as this tragedy has taken already…ENOUGH…let forgiveness and understanding replace the ignorance and cruelty that continues in this thread. God bless all the victims of this story