Nysean D. Giddens, a 23-year-old resident of 502 South Cherry Street in Bunnell, was arrested and charged with manslaughter in the drug-overdose death of Shaun Callahan, an Army veteran, last Sept. 13.
Giddens had already been arrested the same day in connection with the drug deal that allegedly led to Callahan’s death. Giddens at the time was charged with unlawful use of a communication device, sale of a controlled substance–a second-degree felony–and pot possession. He bonded out in 24 hours. That case is ongoing, in the pre-trial phase. The manslaughter charge adds another second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
He is the fifth Flagler County resident criminally charged in the death of another person after an overdose. The four previous indictments were on first-degree felony charges. Two of the four have have been convicted.
A cell phone led in part to Giddens’s arrest. The phone was next to Callahan’s body. Callahan’s girlfriend told detectives the day of his death that he’d been supposed to meet her at her workplace to pick up the young child they have in common. He never showed or answered the phone. She drove to Utrillo Place, where he lived with his parents, and found him unresponsive in his bedroom. His parents called 911. Callahan had been known to use cocaine, his girlfriend told detectives, but he’d been trying to stop. The white powder detectives located in his bedroom had been found in lines typical of the way cocaine users prepare the drug for consumption–a key detail that helped indicate to detectives that Callahan was convinced he was using cocaine, not anything else.
But the drug tested positive for fentanyl, the extremely powerful and addictive narcotic. The medical examiner attributed his death to a fentanyl overdose. He had injested it unknowingly, based on the evidence collected at the scene and subsequently.
His phone revealed several messages from Giddens–who went by the nickname “Duke”–in a back-and-forth exchange with Callahan, who’d asked for “a decent 60,” slang for drugs. Late the night before he was found dead, the exchange indicated with near precision that Giddens was driving to Callahan’s home, allegedly for a delivery. Later, Callahan had texted him about the difficulty of getting “that chunk,” and Giddens had replied: “Yea bro that chunk high and hard yo find but saving my money up to deal with my brother ppl. .. I need big money to go see him lol.” That was the last message.
A detective next set up an undercover buy from Giddens, who drove in with a Chevrolet Equinox, and during that encounter detectives placed a call from Callahan’s phone to Giddens’s, which flashed with Callahan’s name, thus confirming the connection between the two, and that “Duke” was Giddens. Giddens was “initially deceitful” about whether he had drugs, according to his arrest report, but then indicated where he had a small amount of what he, too, was convinced was cocaine, which he kept in a particularly private area on his person. Detectives told Giddens of Callahan’s death at that point. The bag of drugs later tested positive for fentanyl. It weighed about 0.33 grams.
Giddens turned himself in to the Sheriff’s Office after a warrant was signed for his arrest. The manslaughter charge is reflective of differences between Giddens’s case and that of others, previously arrested on first-degree felony charges: Giddens had no previous record, was not a known dealer, and had no client list, and had an ongoing connection with Callahan. He appeared to have been unaware that the cocaine he acquired had been laced with fentanyl.
“Here’s another case of drugs taking a life,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “We investigate every overdose death as a murder. The victim’s death is a tragedy and poison peddlers are not welcome in Flagler County. Hopefully this arrest can offer some closure to family and friends of the victim.”