It was a first in Flagler County: a heroin dealer whose delivery to a client resulted in her overdose death was indicted on a first-degree murder charge. On Monday, it’ll be another first when the dealer pleads guilty and is sentenced to prison.
Joseph Colon, 37, formerly of 21 Ballenger Lane in Palm Coast, will plead guilty to the murder of 23-year-old Savannah Deangelis of Palm Coast in 2017, after he delivered heroin to her, enabling her overdose. She had been clean and sober for months before that, through rehab. A $40 dose of heroin killed her.
Colon will plead before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins at 1:30 p.m. The proceedings will be on Zoom, occurring, ironically, on International Overdose Awareness Day.
Colon is being prosecuted under a 2017 law that made drug dealers liable for the death by overdose of their clients. Colon, a known drug dealer and user, had been indicted by a grand jury on a first-degree capital murder charge, which exposed him to the death penalty. FlaglerLive has learned that he will plead guilty to second-degree murder and a 30-year prison sentence.
Colon has been at the Flagler County jail since Nov. 6, 2017. By the time he’s sentenced on Monday he will have already served 1,029 days, or almost three years, which he gets credited to his sentence. With good behavior, he will also be eligible for release after serving 85 percent of his sentence, which means he may be released in 22.7 years–at the beginning of 2043, when he will be 59.
The plea agreement will dispose of a series of other pending charges, including trafficking hydrocodone, a first-degree felony, two first-degree felony counts of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a park or school, a second-degree charge of possessing a controlled substance with intent to sell, and other lesser charges. Taken whole, even without the murder charge, Colon was facing the potential for 110 years in prison, making the plea agreement particularly lenient.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton, who reached the plea agreement with the approval of the Deangelis family.
Savannah Deangelis had been in Drug Court and in rehab at Project WARM until she was inexplicably allowed to leave the Bunnell facility during the Hurricane Irma emergency in September 2017, even though she had not previously been allowed to have so much as a pass to leave the facility, even though her home in Grand Haven was in an evacuation zone, as the Project WARM facility was not, and even though her parents, recognizing the fragility of her recovery, wanted her to stay at the facility. She relapsed.
Upon her return, she was honest: she told facility personnel what she had done. Facility personnel, who bore a significant responsibility for her the reckless furlough they signed, ignored her honesty and threw her out of the program, resulting in her incarceration at the county jail on a probation violation. She pleaded with Circuit Judge Dennis Craig to restore her to Project Warm, to no avail. Her parents wrote the judge as well, pleading with him: “We feel that it can save her life.”
Short of that, they wished she stayed in jail as efforts continued to get her back in the program, rather than be let out, given her proclivities. All to no avail. She was released on Oct. 26, 2017. She was to be under house arrest and to participate in Drug Court. The next day she went to the probation office for a urinalysis. Two tests came back negative. The day after that, her father drove her to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. He waited for her in the parking lot. She was never out of his sight other than when she was at the meeting. They drove home around 11:20 a.m. Savannah and her mother chatted, and at 11:50 a.m., Savannah told her mother she was stepping outside for a walk and to meet her Drug Court mentor. Instead, she met with someone else on Front Street in Grand Haven. A neighbor who knew her saw her lean into a short man at the wheel of a Nissan, take something form the driver and retreat before the Nissan sped off.
That brief window of time veiled out of her parents’ sight, measured in seconds, was enough for Colon to pass her the heroin that killed her.
According to a warrant in Colon’s case, detectives traced the Nissan to Colon, who’d rented it. As Savannah spent her last days in a coma, detectives spoke with her boyfriend, who told them he’d himself spoken to Colon the day of the drug transaction and that Colon told him he’d gone to Savannah’s house to sell her drugs. Colon was arrested for unrelated charges during a traffic stop on Nov. 6, finding a bevy of drugs in the car. In a subsequent interview with detectives, he admitted to going to Grand Haven to sell two “baggies” of heroin to Savannah, for $40.
Savannah was taken to AdventHealth Palm Coast shortly after she’d locked herself in a room and overdosed. She never regained consciousness, never showed more signs of brain activity. She died at the hospital on Nov. 13. That year, she was one of 47,600 people in the United States alone who died in the opioid epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
A grand jury indicted Colon on the capital murder charge on Feb. 20, 2018.
Less than a year after Colon was jailed and indicted, the mother of his child, Samatha Brewer, 30, died of a drug overdose at her R-Section home in Palm Coast.
Flagler County’s chapter of Open Arms Recovery will be observing International Overdose Awareness Day Saturday with an online vigil here from 7 to 8 p.m..
It seems Judge Dennis Craig may also be responsible for her death by not allowing her the treatmnt she needed. I mean if we are gonna blame everyone except the drug user who actually willfully bought the drugs and willfully took the drugs.
Lance Carroll says
To the public at hand: I always post my full name.
Furthermore, I happen to agree with the other “Lance,” whomever that person may be. This situation is an obvious example of judicial failure, as the single judge, Dennis Craig, deciding this matter had the final say that determined the young woman’s future. How is it that a participant in a drug program, that was not even allowed a single pass during her treatment, was released into society during a natural catastrophe?
Of course, I am only guessing…
Scratching my head, questioning the judicial process, questioning the validity of the drug treatment operations….
Flagler County desperately needs proper resources to be funded as to avoid a repeat of this type of failure.
Condolences to this young woman’s family.
Trailer Bob says
Lance, I think the other Lance was being facetious in his first sentence, and actually saying it was her fault alone. Hence the part “we are gonna blame everyone except the drug user who actually willfully bought the drugs and willfully took the drugs”.
Bye bye. Cant bring her back or right the wrongs of your employment. May you think of your victims with sleepless nites in a cage. God Bless her Family.
Wow, talk about escaping culpable negligence of endangerment by those she was under their charge. The ultimate enable was her release by these professionals.
“Savannah Deangelis had been in Drug Court and in rehab at Project WARM until she was inexplicably allowed to leave the Bunnell facility during the Hurricane Irma emergency in September 2017, even though she had not previously been allowed to have so much as a pass to leave the facility, even though her home in Grand Haven was in an evacuation zone, as the Project WARM facility was not, and even though her parents, recognizing the fragility of her recovery, wanted her to stay at the facility. She relapsed.”
Another one lost says
Many of the young ladies who were mandatorily furloughed relapsed. Some never came back. The executive director, who makes all the decisions unilaterally should have been fired or resigned. During the furlough WARM never even lost power and many of the staff and their families stayed there through the duration of the hurricane. The girls were left to their own devises and the results were a forgone conclusion. Savannah and her family literally begged the executive director(she knows who she is) to allow Savannah to stay. As a friend of the family I witnessed Savannah’s mother literally pleading with the director to let her stay, telling her that if she discharged Savannah, she would surely die. At any time she could have reconsidered. She coldly chose not to. Savannah was immediately arrested and thrown in jail because being discharged from WARM is a probation violation.
As far as the court is concerned, the family has nothing but respect for Judge Craig. I have a lawyer friend who told me the Judge Craig was devastated by the news of Savannah’s death. That’s more than I can say for Project Warm.
Someone With A Brain says
Our judicial system is so messed up. This is cruel and unusual punishment ~
Plea deals suck says
So this botttom dwelling scumbag who killed a beautiful, young lady, will be out of jail before he is 60 ?
Hope he rots and dies in jail !
C’mon man says
Rest In Peace Savannah I hope the family can find some kind of closure now.
So why aren’t all the dealers in Flagler County getting the same treatment? Someone delt the drugs that also killed his child’s mother (Samantha Brewer), he couldn’t have done it because he was in jail?
Flaglerlive can you please track down the overdose stats in this County for a 10 year stretch? Or how often the sheriff’s department has to resurrect people with narcan?
C'mon Man says
You would be surprised how often the sheriffs office revives people overdosing. you might also be surprised to learn that the fire department leaves a dose of Narcan with them in the event they relapse again after they leave. (granted they refuse to go to the hospital) Its almost a free pass to get high again knowing the police will come and the FD will leave you some for the next time.
Its a mindset says
Why is everyone blaming everyone except for the girl. She made the decision to get the herion. She was clean for some time.
The problem with drug rehabs is that all these people do is count the days until they are free and then they go right back to it. To quit is a decision that person has to make . drug rehabs should be for people looking for help yet the courts keep forcing these people in when they have no intention of stopping. It a luxury vacation that keeps them out of jail.
Trailer Bob says
Big mistake made…in hindsight.
But unfortunately, it is the drug that is at fault, her strong addiction that is at fault, as society can only do so much with regard to this opioid epidemic… or maybe not.
Perhaps we should make dealing in opiods carry a 15 year sentence mandatory with no early release…not easy to do of course.
I lost my nephew/ adopted son in 2017 due to heroin addiction…he hung himself from a tree. He had just turned 27 years old.
Trying to get him help, to get him committed, etc, was extremely difficult due to the bullshit about “adult personal rights” crap.
I have his dog, so I think of him everyday, he is with us everyday, via the dog Frankie.
The dealer in the bunnell projects knew that the amount he bought was unusually large and lethal, but didn’t care.
How long with we wait until we truly use our power to eradicate this poison from society. Lenient jail time certainly has killed many of our children, as has treating the addicted like criminals.
Can we please make this an issue in our country instead of just writing news stories about it after another person dies?
There is NO excuse for there to be poison available in our society.
Take a good look says
There were two sides at play in this dynamic. Both Savannah and Joey are victims of their shared drug addiction. However, there appears to be a HUGE lack of awareness of how BOTH parties are equally accountable for the tragic events that unfolded, as addicts just do what they do to survive. Throughout this ordeal Joey has been unjustly portrayed in a negative light, whereas, Savannah has been viewed as having no fault in the matter. In fact, if she had not sought him out that evening, she would have found another “connection” to accommodate her urge to use.
As a professional, who works in the field of substance abuse and addiction, I can attest to that. I can also see both sides of this story, and how not one but TWO families are, and will forever be significantly impacted by this situation that neither Joey or Savannah, due to their disease, had the capacity to foresee their potential outcomes. Let’s face it. Both Joey and Savannah have struggled with their demons.
With that being said, the law is unjust, severely biased, and needs to be changed. It does not correctly address this issue, but instead focuses on shifting the “blame.” This is tragic for everyone involved, to the parents of Savannah, AND to Joey’s family, ESPECIALLY Joey’s five children; the INNOCENT ones in all this that are left to pick up the pieces of their broken lives and somehow struggle to make some sense of it all….these children are the forgotten victims. God bless the Innocents, and God willing in the not too distant future this law will be changed to reflect reasonableness in which the punishment will fit the crime.
JUSTICE FOR JOEY.
C’mon man says
Justice has been served.
Former Client says
I knew Savannah for a long time & than we were in rehab together at that joke of a place called Warm. Mrs. Nicole let so many people out on furlough. And yet Savannah was not even aloud a pass to go home for a few hours. Several staff with their families & several clients stayed. When the clients came to return Savannah showed up hours later & not in good shape. She eventually confessed after being treated with such disrespect in front of every client & staff member! She was an addict & they belittled her so bad & she eventually came clean yet they still kicked her out to make an example. Ok I get that to a point but that is what rehab is for… not everyone can just change years of addiction in 2-3 months. The way they treated her was horrible! There is more to the story of how wrong WARM handled this… But when it came to Judge Craig… that man respected every single person who came in his court room (scumbag or not) & yes some of what is in this article is true, some is not! But Judge Craig had faith in Savannah as he does every single person that stands before him. He had a decision to make & untimely it failed him but I know personally how hard this affected him & I know he doesnt sleep at night… he regrets that day every single day of his life! And hates himself for it! He has a huge heart & like every single one of us has done in our lives… he made a mistake! The family doesnt blame him & neither do I. It all started with Warm.. and the rude, arrogant lady Nicole who runs it! She doesnt care about those clients! She cares about money & #’s! When she took over, that place went to shit! A rehab is to help people & thats the last thing on her mind! She only wants to look good & make it seem like she cares! Thats far from the truth! Judge Craig cared! He has a heart of gold! Now for Joey, he has always been a troubled person who was an addict himself & selling to people made his addiction cheaper & will live with the consequences for a very long time. Now I agree he should go away forver but Savannahs family has a heart & personally knows how a drug addict is & because of there huge hearts they agreed to this sentence! They lost a daughter, sister, friend etc & know that Joey & Samantha’s daughter lost her parents to addiction! What Im trying to say is they want peace & to be able to move forward & want peace for the daughter as well! There are so many emotions & families hurt by drug addiction but we have to start somewhere for a healing process!
But before everyone bashes Judge Craig (yes u r entitled to ur opinions) plz know that there is more to this horrible cycle of addiction & what happened with Savanah! It all started from WARM!!
RIP my beautiful friend! I love you & miss you & that big smile & hilarious laugh! Our pics together stay framed on my mantle & the plaques ur family had made for everyone stays in our vehicles & I even have one hanging from my orchid plant u gave me for my bday!! I will never forget you & will forever have u in my heart! Ur family can finally rest now! Continue watching over us!! I love you Savannah!!!
Yes, the ultimate responsible party is the addict and the scumbag who dealt her last fix to her. But the buck also stops squarely on the facility personnel who let her out during the hurricane, and that despicable judge for not having a bit of compassion. What a horrible thing, what a waste of a life. All because some mid-level bureaucrats could throw their weight around. If those people are that jaded, serving people who are addicted to drugs, every last one of them needs to find a different “career path”.
White Bronco says
30 years for not dying of the same affliction she suffered from? He must be sorry he survived the affliction. Maybe Flagler county should look into its own self and realize why crime has dropped. Damn near all of the local unfortunately afflicted addicts have all died because the supply they’ve all been provided from wherever the hell it comes from has killed them. Dead. Life, GONE. Giving this man 30 years in prison is the same as putting the guy that put a tire on your car a week before a blowout happened and someone was killed as a result. Asinine. If anyone knew the surrounding information regarding this case, They would stand and deliver the same justice that any other person in that position would receive. The man was charged with selling drugs, not murdering anyone because he never did so, in anyway shape or form intend to kill anyone. People use drugs at their own risk. so why would he plead guilty to that? Murder? His lawyer must be a total Dolt. Sadly, but honestly and truly, this girl failed herself, the system failed HER, society failed her, we all failed her, Not excluding her own family failed her. Sorrry, but the truth hurts. Now, this scapegoat is going to have a ruined life as a result as well? How proactive. Two wrongs don’t make a right. He was just as screwed by the world we all live in as much as she. Sadly neither will ever recover. Justice isn’t done here, it’s a very public lynching. And more importantly, it won’t change anything at all. This will continue. I think more proactive policing is in order instead of answering 911 calls. We should have a culture in our society to prevent them from occurring at all in the first place. Just awful, and redundant. The justice system, selves very little “justice” to anyone these days. And no, I’m not sympathetic to crime, but I am VERY sympathetic to persons who have become addicted to opioids and the circling of the drain that their life becomes from the moment after and the difficulty that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy to recover from. Just atrocious.
Sorry he should rot in prison. He has no life