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Heroin sale that led to overdose death leads to two-year prison sentence for Madison woman

March 29, 2017 GMT

A Madison woman convicted for selling heroin that ended up killing a man was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday after her attorney told the judge she needed protection from her addiction to heroin.

Renee P. Oashgar, 61, was also sentenced by Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke to four years of extended supervision that included a requirement to speak to groups about the dangers of heroin after Oashgar’s attorney told Ehlke that she was seeking a way to end her addiction and make amends for hurting the victim’s and her family.

“I hope she can build her life from a rock-bottom foundation,” attorney Murali Jasti told Ehlke.

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Oashgar was convicted in January of first-degree reckless homicide after she sold heroin to a man, who then gave it to James D. Doris, who was found unconscious in the bathroom of CVS Pharmacy, 2 S. Bedford St., by a store employee on May 4. Doris died two days later at Meriter Hospital.

According to a criminal complaint: On store surveillance video, police saw two people entering the bathroom with Doris, then leaving without him. Officers found the two people a short time later, and one of them said he had called Oashgar to buy heroin from her. She brought it to him on Bedford Street, then drove away, he told police.

The man said he and another person went into the bathroom at CVS with Doris, and when Doris injected the heroin into his arm, he immediately passed out. The man and the other person then quickly left.

With police officers present, the man called Oashgar’s number to order more heroin and made plans to meet to buy it at James Madison Park. A short time later, police stopped Oashgar in her car near the park. She told police she had four bindles of heroin in her pockets and a fifth in the car.

The Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office said Doris died from an acute mixed drug intoxication in his system that included heroin, fentanyl, ethanol, clonazepam, sertaline, hydroxyzine and quetiapine, according to a presentence report written for Oashgar’s defense.

Even though she didn’t sell the drug directly to Doris, a guilt-ridden Oashgar has been an emotional “wreck” ever since she learned that Doris died, according to Jasti. “This is something that has been eating her alive,” he said.

Oashgar sold the heroin only to support her own habit, which she kept private from her family, Jasti said. The twice-widowed Oashgar, who started using heroin to cope with the death of her second husband in 2010, relapsed twice while out on bail because of her emotional state heading toward key hearings in her case, he said.

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Justi told Ehlke that Oashgar was comfortable with him asking the judge to sentence her to time in prison “because she needs to be protected.” He then asked Ehlke to craft the sentence to require her to speak publicly about the dangers of heroin “so that Mr. Doris’s death wouldn’t be in vain or forgotten.”

Prosecuting attorney Adrienne Blais asked Ehlke to sentence Oashgar to 2½ years in prison with four years of extended supervision. While she called Oashgar “fairly nice and appropriately remorseful,” she said heroin dealing is a predatory act and “the James Dorises deserve protection from predators.”

Prior to the sentencing, a tearful Oashgar told Ehlke she was a very compassionate person who never would have given Doris any drugs if she had seen him that night. “I know I messed up,” she said.

Ehkle called Oashgar a kind person who made a grave mistake and that the sentence needed to address the gravity of the crime she committed and give her the time she needs in prison to end her addiction and “get you on the right path.”