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Landmark trial set for July
Taylor Danielle Hendren.jpg
Taylor Danielle Hendren
Lisa Z.jpg
Lisa Z

A landmark case has been set for trial in July that will test whether a local jury will convict on second-degree murder for providing drugs which led to the death of another.

On Wednesday, Taylor Danielle Hendren, 23, had her case set for a jury trial to be held July 18. She is charged with second-degree murder, reckless homicide, and delivery of heroin.

Prosecutors contend Hendren provided heroin to two people who overdosed and died, a 26- year-old female and a 42-year-old male. The deaths happened at a home on Wood Road on May 26, 2020. The two victims were found unresponsive and not breathing when first-responders arrived.

“I’m curious to see what a jury is going to do,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis. “It’s their community. I want to let the community decide and speak on what we should do in these cases. For me, we’re losing way too many people. We are being very aggressive when working these cases because there’s fentanyl out there, and it’s 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and it is killing people of all ages.”

State law was recently changed to allow prosecuting for second-degree murder in cases where the person knowingly provides deadly drugs to another. It does not have to be a drug sale.

Ronald Eugene Welden Jr., 34, was charged along with Hendren for the two overdose deaths. However, his case has been separated from hers.

If Hendren does go to trial in July, it will be among the state’s first such cases.

“I think there is one in Cookeville that might go in April but that’s the only one I know of before us,” said Zavogiannis. “I got a call from The Tennessean last week and the reporter asked me if I would plead it down to reckless homicide because that’s what some of the other DAs are doing. I’m not going to do that. For me, it’s up to the community to decide what to do and I’m going to let a jury decide.”

Second-degree murder has a sentencing range of 15-25 years.