SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — A man has been convicted of seven felonies in connection with sexually preying on a 16-year-old girl who later overdosed in his home, according to the Office of the District Attorney for the County of Santa Cruz.
Michael James Russell, 23, was convicted of engaging in a pattern of giving drugs to two teenage girls. Russell also engaged in sexual activity with both victims, for which he was also convicted.
The 16-year-old girl, identified as Emma Lace Price, was found dead inside of Russell’s parents home on Nov. 12, 2021. Price died of an overdose, and it was later revealed that she had four separate narcotics in her system at the time of her death.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office proceeded with an investigation, and investigators uncovered evidence that showed the victim had been provided narcotics by multiple dealers in the days leading up to her death, and one of those dealers was Russell.
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The suit filed against Russell laid out his actions the night of Emma’s death. The suit stated that Russell provided Xanax and Fentanyl-laced Percocet to Emma on Nov. 12, 2021. She began to overdose, and Russell took off her clothes and put her in a cold shower.
He then injected her with Narcan provided by a friend and attempted CPR, according to the suit. No one in the home called 911 for 30 minutes. Emma later died of an acute fentanyl toxicity.
This was an incredibly tragic case which has had a devastating impact on E.P.’s family, her loved ones, and many other concerned members of the community. While nothing can bring back their daughter, nor does this sentence represent the pain and trauma of their loss, our Office hopes this disposition will further protect the public by ensuring a defendant who takes advantage of underage victims is held accountable for his crimes.Office of District Attorney for County of Santa Cruz
However, after reviewing evidence, the DA’s office stated it does not believe that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Russell is culpable for Emma’s death. He was not chargedRussell has been sentenced to 10 years in a state prison, and he will be required to register as a sex offender after he is released.