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Fatal methadone overdose gets Washington County woman prison time

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The woman who was charged with third-degree murder in connection with the fatal overdose of her husband in March 2013 will spend the next six years behind bars.

44-year-old Jennifer Marie Johnson pleaded guilty in August to giving her 32-year-old husband, Dennis Parmuat, some of her prescription methadone, which toxicology tests found played a role in his death. Johnson was sentenced to 72 months in prison in a Washington County courtroom Thursday.

A release from the county says Johnson admitted to using a syringe to inject her husband with 30-40 milligrams of methadone after he consumed alcohol. The Pioneer Press reports he drank some 12 beers before his wife gave him the lethal dose.

Police and emergency responders were called to the home after Parmuat became unresponsive. He was rushed to Regions Hospital in St. Paul and later pronounced dead, according to the Washington County release.

Comments from Washington County Attorney Pete Orput indicate the sentence is a message to drug dealers, as Minnesota sees a statewide spike in overdose deaths.

"When people die as a result of the poisons the dealers sell or give or otherwise deliver, they are going to be held responsible," he said. "My office is bound and determined to go after those bona fide drug dealers as aggressively as we can."

He added lives may be saved in the future by "aggressively prosecuting" drug and overdose offenses.

Other recent overdoses around the state have led not only to deaths, but legal consequences.

A Blue Earth teen was given probation earlier this month in relation to the death of his 17-year-old girlfriend, Chloe Moses. Prosecutors said she had a bad reaction after the boy gave her a synthetic drug, the Pioneer Press reports. 

On Dec. 1, in Duluth, police announced they were investigating three separate opioid overdoses that occurred within 48 hours. The deaths prompted police to warn the public about the risk of using such drugs, as their content and purity is often unknown, FOX 9 says.

A report by the Star Tribune found 507 Minnesotans died in 2013 from overdoses caused by various drugs.

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput acknowledged the disturbing trend earlier this year.

“In the last few years, drug overdose deaths have become a scourge upon our local communities,” he said.

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