Man pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter in connection with Lawrence teen’s fentanyl overdose death

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Benjamin L. Mims is pictured at a Douglas County District Court hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022.

A man pleaded guilty on Friday to voluntary manslaughter in connection with the fentanyl overdose death of an 18-year-old Lawrence resident.

The defendant, Benjamin L. Mims, 36, was scheduled to go to trial in June for one felony count of distribution of a controlled substance causing death, one felony count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and one count of distribution of a controlled substance.

The distribution causing death charge relates to an incident on Aug. 28, 2021, in the 3300 block of Westridge Court, where Lawrence teen Mohamadi “MJ” Tompson Issa Jr., 18, died of an apparent fentanyl overdose, according to the Douglas County coroner.

Mims was scheduled to appear in court for a hearing on Friday for a final motions hearing before trial but instead Mims pleaded to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawful distribution of fentanyl, according to a press release from the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. Mims is scheduled to be sentenced on June 26.

The original distribution causing death charge came with a minimum sentence of over 13 years up to 54 years, while the reduced voluntary manslaughter charge comes with a minimum of 55 months with a maximum penalty of 247 months, 20.5 years. The unlawful distribution of fentanyl charge carries a sentence between 14 and 51 months.

Mims was on federal parole at the time of the overdose. He was convicted in 2019 in federal court of felony possession with the intent to distribute heroin. Mims was also convicted in 2009 for felony possession of narcotics in Douglas County.


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