Crime & Courts

Drug-induced homicide charges dismissed in Crystal Lake man's death

West Chicago man off the hook after cause of 22-year-old's death changed upon further testing

WOODSTOCK – The state’s attorney’s office has dismissed charges against a 25-year-old West Chicago man accused of drug-induced homicide.

Joshua M. Manthei, of the 300 block of West Blair Street, was arrested and charged in February with drug-induced homicide and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance in connection with the death of a 22-year-old Crystal Lake man.

Prosecutors said Manthei sold an unknown amount of black tar heroin to Steven D. Brown, who was found unresponsive by his parents in their Crystal Lake residence in early February. Brown was taken to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock, where he died shortly thereafter, police have said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs told the court Friday that further testing by the state’s pathologist led to a change in the cause of death, therefore the state could no longer charge Manthei with the alleged offenses.

Ken and Maria Brown, Steven Brown’s parents, previously told the Northwest Herald that their son had struggled with addiction since he was a teenager.

Maria Brown, Steven’s mother, said on Friday her family was told her son’s previous overdoses may have contributed to his death in February and that he did not overdose that evening.

She said her family did not know of Manthei until he was arrested, and they are not interested in someone being in jail for something he did not do.

“He is released because they can’t figure out what killed my son that night, and he should be released,” she said. “We’d rather have a period at the end of this journey rather than a question mark but that’s just the way it is.”

She said those who have or are currently using drugs need to understand that you don’t have to overdose to die from drug use.

Manthei was released Friday morning from the custody of the McHenry County Jail. Romas Mockaitis, Manthei’s attorney, said he believed prosecutors made the right decision because the evidence did not support the charges against his client.

“Heroin overdoses in McHenry County happen way too often,” Mockaitis said. “The county needs to find a solution to heroin trafficking and use.”

Mockaitis said his client feels relieved and vindicated after he was charged for something he didn’t do.

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