Javian Neesmith, a 22-year-old former resident of Buttermilk Drive in Palm Coast, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday in a plea to manslaughter in the death by fentanyl overdose of
Dimitry Popkov, 39, on Karas Trail in September 2020.
Neesmith is the latest in a list of convictions of half a dozen individuals charged with causing the deaths of drug clients since Joseph Colon was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2020 after being charged with first degree murder.
Neesmith was originally indicted on a first degree murder charge, too, by a grand jury. There were indications that he would fight the charge. The court authorized his defense attorney to hire an expert witness to review the toxicology report of Popov, estimating he’d be needed for 15 hours at $400 an hour. The case continued, with notices of deposition as recently as mid-January.
On Tuesday, Neesmith, who has been awaiting trial at the Flagler County jail, was scheduled for docket sounding, the last step before trial. Instead, he pleaded to the lesser charge and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Terence Perkins. A conviction on a first degree murder charge could have resulted in a sentence twice as long. His plea follows the same pattern as previous individuals who chose to plea rather than risk trial. So there has yet to be a case of a drug overdose murder charge taken to trial in Flagler.
“The poison sold to the victim by Neesmith took his life,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Let this be a reminder to drug dealers to keep your poison out of Flagler County and know that we investigate every overdose death as a murder.”
Neesmith, who also pleaded to a few other, lesser charges, has already served a year and a half at the county jail. That time will be credited to his sentence. He will also be eligible for release after serving 85 percent of his sentence. So he could possibly be out of prison in 11 years and three months.
Neesmith was represented by attorney David Damore and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis.