Rally calling for drug-induced homicide charges planned for Father’s Day

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A group will hold a peaceful rally on Fathers’ Day to call attention to the fentanyl issues in the community and push for changes to how California charges drug dealers in cases that involve deaths that result from the sale of their products. Valley News/Courtesy photo

For Matt Capelouto, there couldn’t be a better day to call attention to an issue he believes needs to be addressed in California and nationwide than Father’s Day.

“I plead with every parent, community member, community official and anyone who has been affected by drugs in any fashion to come out and support this event,” he said. “With this rally falling on Father’s Day, what better lesson could there be than bringing your kids and joining another father who is trying to make our community safer.”

The rally, organized by Matt Capelouto, will be held on Father’s Day in honor of The December Four – Jacob Alexander, Kaleb Dunlap, Dylan Perez and Alexandra Capelouto – four young people who died in December 2019. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Capelouto is the organizer of Voices for The December Four – Drug-Induced Homicide Peaceful Rally taking place from 2:30-4 p.m. Sunday, June 21, at the Temecula Duck Pond.

“This rally is important because we need to work with our local senators, assemblymen and legislators to draft legislation that deals with the fentanyl crisis,” Capelouto said. “I have invited our newly elected state senator, Mrs. Melendez, to attend this rally. There’s power in numbers, and I’m hoping to show her that our community is no longer going to tolerate the killing of our young people. As of right now, drugs laced with fentanyl is the leading cause of death for young Americans. In Temecula, we had four young people killed in less than three weeks just this past December. Temecula as a whole has had somewhere between 20-30 deaths in the last 12 months due to fentanyl.”

Capelouto, along with his wife and family, lost daughter Alexandra Capelouto when he said she purchased an illicit drug laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl that killed her. She was only 20 years old and home from college when she died.

Capelouto approached the Temecula City Council in February to call attention to three other Temecula area young people – Jacob Alexander, Kaleb Dunlap and Dylan Perez – that died under similar circumstances in the month of December alone.

His speech came on the heels of a special bulletin issued by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Temecula Station pertaining to counterfeit pill-related overdoses and deaths in Riverside County.

The young people from Temecula ranged in age from 17-21 and died during a three-week span from Dec. 6 to Dec. 23. According to Capelouto, each purchased illicit drugs not knowing they were laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Capelouto said drug-induced homicide is the unlawful delivery of a controlled substance leading to death. It’s a murder charge that holds drug dealers accountable for deaths resulting from the sale of illicit drugs. He said that 25 states have this law but California is not one of them.

“Drug dealers have to be held responsible for the death that they deal,” Capelouto said. “Currently, California does not have specific laws that allow authorities to levy a murder charge against a drug dealer. We seek to have a drug-induced homicide law here in California. Drug-induced homicide is the act of unlawfully delivering a controlled substance to another, and any person’s death is caused by the injection, inhalation, absorption or ingestion of any amount of that controlled substance.”

Currently, he said, each of the drug dealers who sold the substances to the deceased are not currently in custody.

While Capelouto acknowledged that each of the young people “made a bad decision in buying illicit drugs off the street,” he asked, “Why does one person pay the ultimate price and the other goes unpunished?

“The majority of people don’t understand the fentanyl crisis,” he said. “When they read a headline that mentions someone has died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, they aren’t getting the whole story. Most likely the person would not have died if whatever drug they were taking didn’t have a lethal dose of fentanyl added to it. A more realistic headline should read that the person died from a ‘lethal poisoning of fentanyl.’ It’s not an accident or an overdose when an otherwise survivable drug is laced with an un-survivable amount of fentanyl. This is murder.

“I want every parent to not be fooled and think ‘This won’t happen to my kid.’ Statistically, your child is more likely to die from drug toxicity, specifically fentanyl, than car accidents, drunk driving, firearms or illness,” Capelouto said.

For more information on the rally, visit https://druginducedhomicide.org/events/voices-for-the-december-four-drug-induced-homicide-peaceful-rally-temecula-ca/.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.