TEMECULA, Calif. — Two days before Christmas in 2019, Matt Capelouto and his wife, Christine, found their 20-year-old daughter Alex dead in her room.
What You Need To Know
- Alexandra's Law is also known as Senate Bill 350
- The author is Senator Melissa Melendez (R)
- The Los Angeles DEA seized more than 1 million fake pills in 2020
- The law aims to hold drug dealers accountable for fatalities
Alex had purchased what she thought was oxycodone on Snapchat. The pill she took was a fake and filled with five times the fatal amount of fentanyl. Her death was marked as an overdose, but as far as Matt Capelouto was concerned, his daughter had been poisoned.
“I looked at this as fraud — fraud with the worst possible outcome", he said.
A criminal investigation was opened after they learned there were hundreds of thousands of parents nationwide with similar stories. A fraction of those stories, are in a book that the Capeloutos put together.
“These are real people. You know? These are peoples’ children", said Christine.
Now, the couple is taking their book, along with dozens of parents and hundreds of letters in support, to Sacramento. On March 23, their bill Alexandra’s Law will be heard in front of the Public Safety Senate Committee.
The law aims to hold drug dealers accountable for fatalities, which is currently hard to do because “implied malice” must be proven.
“In order to charge a drug dealer with murder in California you have to prove that the drug dealer had specific knowledge that they knew what they were doing was harmful to human life," said Matt.
Alexandra’s Law would address “implied malice” for drug deaths similar to drunk driving deaths from the 1981 People vs. Watson case. For example, under Alexandra’s Law should someone be arrested for selling, they would be given a warning of the danger of their behavior. Should that same individual continue to sell and someone dies, he or she could be charged with murder.
The warning is the specific knowledge that prosecutors need.
“If a drug dealer is arrested for selling or distributing narcotics that advisory would be enough to get them to stop selling drugs,” said Matt.
While this bill does not solve the entire fentanyl crisis, it is a small step forward. However, if the bill does not pass, it will only add to their pain as they continue to fight.
“It won’t bring our daughter back, but we are adamant about saving lives,” said Capelouto. “We can still laugh and joke, and things, but behind the smiles and behind the laughing, it’s an emptiness that there really are no words to describe.”
Gearing up for the biggest fight of their lives, the couple sees their time before the Senate committee as an opportunity to stop more deaths that are senseless.