A young man accused of supplying a lethal dose of fentanyl to a 16-year-old French Valley girl must stand trial for second-degree murder, a judge ruled Friday.

Raymond Gene Tyrrell, 19, of French Valley, was arrested last year following a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigation into the death of the teenager, identified in court documents only as “J.G.”

At the end of a preliminary hearing at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Superior Court Judge Paul Dickerson found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the murder count. He scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Oct. 14 and ordered that Tyrrell remain held in lieu of $1 million bail at the nearby Byrd Detention Center.

His associate, 19-year-old Jeremiah David Carlton of Canyon Lake, is charged separately with murder for the same alleged offense and is still awaiting a preliminary hearing. He’s also being held at the Murrieta jail on $1 million bail.

According to sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Espinoza, Tyrrell and Carlton allegedly provided the drugs that led to the death of the girl on the night of Feb. 24, 2021, at a residence in the 35000 block of Sugar Maple Street, near Leon Road.

Espinoza said deputies were called to the location to investigate two possible fentanyl overdoses and discovered the girl and a man, also not identified, comatose. Both were taken to a regional trauma center, where the man was revived but the girl died to the toxic ingestion.

“Detectives conducted an investigation and developed information that this was possibly a homicide,” the sergeant said.

He declined to elaborate on the circumstances.

Tyrrell was summoned to the sheriff’s Southwest station in Murrieta a day later and interviewed by detectives, after which he was taken into custody. Carlton was taken into custody at his residence.

Neither defendant has documented prior felony convictions.

Fentanyl is manufactured in overseas labs and according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, it’s smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by drug cartels. The substance is 80-100 times more potent than morphine and is a popular additive, mixed into any number of narcotics and pharmaceuticals. The ingestion of only two milligrams can be fatal.

Since February 2021, the District Attorney’s Office has charged nearly 20 individuals countywide with murder in connection with fentanyl poisoning fatalities.

According to county public safety officials, in 2021, there were nearly 400 fentanyl-induced deaths countywide, representing a 200-fold increase from 2016, when two such fatalities were documented.

Statistics published in May by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there were roughly 108,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2021, and fentanyl poisoning accounted for over 80,000 of them.

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