A man accused of supplying a lethal dose of fentanyl to a 19-year-old Eastvale resident pleaded not guilty Friday to second-degree murder.

Alvin Barrington Linton Jr., 36, of Ontario was arrested last month following a yearlong investigation into the death of Javon Richard.

Linton was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge O.G. Magno, who scheduled a preliminary hearing for March 18 at the Riverside Hall of Justice and left the defendant’s bail set at $1 million.

He was being held at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Marcuse, on the afternoon of Nov. 9, 2020, deputies were called to a home in the 6400 block of Wells Springs Street in Eastvale and discovered Richard dead.

An autopsy ultimately confirmed that he had ingested an undisclosed quantity of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Marcuse said that homicide detectives spent the ensuing months trying to identify the party who had supplied the drug, and Linton was allegedly determined to be the seller.

The defendant was arrested on Nov. 17.

Linton is one of nearly a dozen people countywide charged with murder for allegedly providing lethal doses of fentanyl to victims.

The drug is manufactured in China and smuggled across the Mexican border, according to Sheriff Chad Bianco.

It is known to be 80-100 times more potent than morphine and is a popular additive, seamlessly mixed into any number of narcotics and pharmaceuticals.

Bianco and District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced earlier this year that they would be taking a hard line on fentanyl deaths, charging murder whenever circumstances warrant and the evidence is unmistakable.

Hestrin told the Board of Supervisors over the summer that the county was on pace to document 500 fentanyl deaths this year. The number of fatalities has doubled every year since 2015, and in that time, there has been an overall 800% rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths, according to public safety officials.

The county, in partnership with area chambers of commerce, has initiated freeway messaging campaigns warning of the potentially deadly consequences of fentanyl use.

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