After a year-long investigation, Grove City police filed murder and other charges July 15 against a Plain Grove Township man in connection with the overdose death of a Grove City man.
Brandon O’Brien Bowers, 33, of 1800 Brent Road, was charged by Grove City police with third-degree murder, drug delivery resulting in death, manufacture, delivery of possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, and possession of a controlled substance.
Bowers was arraigned via video on Thursday afternoon by District Judge D. Neil McEwen, Pine Township. He was returned to Mercer County Jail after failing to post $250,000 bond.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. July 29 with McEwen.
Bowers is accused of selling fentanyl to Michael Robert Herndon, 33, who died July 13, 2019, of a drug overdose. Police said Herndon overdosed about midnight July 13, 2019, at his home. Emergency responders arrived to find his mother, Julie Herndon, performing CPR.
Herndon’s family declined comment when contacted on Thursday.
Herndon was taken to AHN Grove City, where he was pronounced dead by Mercer County Deputy Coroner Dr. David Hoyt. The Mercer County Coroner’s office determined that Herndon died of a fentanyl overdose.
Police said they searched Herndon’s bedroom and found a white paper that tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.
Officers also found Herndon’s wallet, which contained a paper with a list of names and phone numbers. One number, labeled “B,” was later identified as belonging to Bowers.
In the criminal complaint against Bowers, police said Herndon often met with friends in his garage, where officers found a receipt dated 7:47 p.m. July 12, 2019.
Police traced the receipt to a convenience store and identified Bowers from the store’s surveillance video. Julie Herndon said she thought Bowers had given Michael Herndon drugs previously.
Police said they searched Michael Herndon’s cell phone and found a text message conversation with Bowers about setting up a drug sale at Herndon’s home.
In an interview with Bowers on July 15, 2019, police said he told them that he had been at Herndon’s home the night of his death, and that Bowers and a woman had been there to drop off headphones. Bowers claimed that Herndon owed him money, and that Herndon allowed Bowers to use his debit card at the convenience store.
Police said Bowers contradicted himself several times during the interview and appeared to be justifying his actions on the night of the incident, even though officers had not accused him of committing a crime.
Police also questioned the woman, who said she was with Bowers that night at both the gas station and Herndon’s home. Police said elements of her account did not match Bowers’. In a second interview, on July 17, 2019, the woman admitted that she had not been with Bowers at Herndon’s home the night he died, and said that Bowers went to Herndon’s home alone to sell fentanyl.
She told police that Bowers asked her to lie to investigators. Police said text messages indicated that Bowers did not meet the woman until after he left Herndon’s home.
Police said Bowers told the woman that he and Herndon had previously used larger quantities of drugs together and nothing had happened, so he didn’t expect Herndon to die this time.
On Dec. 16, police said they interviewed a friend of Bowers, who said he had purchased heroin from Bowers before and after Herndon’s death. He described Bowers as “a middle man or low level dealer.”
The friend said Bowers told him that he had provided the fentanyl that killed Herndon, police said.