A Naples woman facing a felony drug charge for her alleged role in the fatal overdose of a friend had overdosed with him the day before he took his lethal dose, police say.

Westbrook police charged Talisha Goodine-Mitchell, 31, in connection with the death of Steven Reali Jr., 31, who was hospitalized after ingesting fentanyl at a house on Cottage Street in Westbrook on March 7. Reali died three days later after being taken off life support at Maine Medical Center. Brandon Steele, 24, also has been charged in connection with Reali’s death.

Brandon Steele, 24, and Talisha Goodine-Mitchell, 31, have been charged in connection with the death of Steven Reali Jr., who overdosed on fentanyl March 7 and died three days later in the hospital.

A police affidavit says that Goodine-Mitchell and Reali had spent several days together leading up to Reali’s fatal overdose and that they both had overdosed in Buxton the previous day, with Goodine-Mitchell getting taken to a hospital while Reali was arrested by local police.

The details provide insight into what police in Westbrook say has become a somewhat routine, but not often highlighted type of drug investigation that begins with an overdose death, and can result in charges for anyone who police can prove played a role in selling or providing the lethal dose.

“Any time there’s a fatal drug overdose it gets investigated by police agencies across the state to determine who may have sold or provided the drug that killed the person,” Westbrook police Capt. Steve Goldberg said. “Sometimes these cases are not successful. These are sometimes complicated cases.”

Goodine-Mitchell and Steele were charged under laws designed to address drug dealing or distribution that results in death.

Steele faces up to 30 years in prison – the same maximum penalty as manslaughter – for one count of aggravated trafficking of a scheduled drug, a Class A felony. Goodine-Mitchell faces one count of aggravated furnishing, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Around the country, as opioid use and deaths reach staggering heights, prosecutors are pursuing people who use drugs together after one of them dies, sometimes even pursuing murder charges.

Although the rate of deaths in Maine is down slightly through the first half of 2018, the overdose scourge is still on track to take at least one life per day.

Goodine-Mitchell and Steele also each face one count of unlawful furnishing, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The investigation into Reali’s death was assisted by Goodine-Mitchell, who initially told police she was willing to work with them to investigate Steele’s alleged role.

According to investigators, after Reali overdosed and was arrested in Buxton, he bailed himself out from the Buxton Police Station the next day. He picked up Goodine-Mitchell from the hospital and they went back to his family home in Hollis.

But Reali and his parents were arguing and they asked him and Goodine-Mitchell to leave, Goodine-Mitchell told an investigator in an interview that’s described in the police affidavit.

Reali needed a ride to Westbrook, so he called a friend and offered him $50 to take Reali and Goodine-Mitchell there, police said. The friend, identified as Benjamin Farrington, agreed, and when the group arrived at the Main Street Subway sandwich shop in Westbrook, Reali gave Farrington a check for $500, told him to go cash it at a bank and keep $50 for himself.

Farrington agreed, and returned with the $450 for Reali, Goodine-Mitchell told police.

Around the same time, Goodine-Mitchell contacted Steele and arranged for him to meet her to buy 1 gram of what she suspected to be heroin for $130, the affidavit said.

Steele, being driven in a maroon SUV by another person, met them in the Subway parking lot. Reali and Steele exchanged money and drugs, and together, the four people in the car proceeded to Cottage Street.

“(Goodine-Mitchell said) they went inside and had a playful debate about who would use their share of the drugs first,” Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Philip W. Robinson wrote in the affidavit. “She told me they had been warned by Steele about this batch of (suspected heroin) being potent and to be cautious about how much they used.”

Once inside the Cottage Street home, Reali and Goodine-Mitchell went into the bathroom, where she snorted a small amount of the drugs.

The next thing Goodine-Mitchell remembers, she told police, was Steele standing over her body as she lay on the floor. She was groggy and disoriented, but she saw the bathroom door was open. Through it she saw Reali on the floor of the kitchen unconscious and motionless. His lips had turned blue and he had stopped breathing, Goodine-Mitchell told police.

“She told me within moments police officers and paramedics were on scene tending to him,” Robinson wrote. “She made no mention of providing him aid.”

Steele called 911 when he discovered Reali, according to the court papers, but while on the phone he apparently tried to obscure his alleged involvement, telling the dispatcher that Reali and Goodine-Mitchell came over to the house to smoke marijuana in the bathroom.

“I had no idea what he was doing he was just in there forever, so I opened the door and he was on the (expletive) floor,” Steele said, according to a portion of the 911 call transcribed in the affidavit.

After Reali’s death, Goodine-Mitchell told police she was still on good enough terms with Steele to call him back for more drugs, and she offered to assist MDEA agents to make purchases in pursuit of a drug investigation.

But according to the affidavit, Goodine-Mitchell lied to investigators about where she was living and why she could not meet up with them to discuss the situation, saying she was “stuck” at a home in Hiram. She then also missed an appointment she had made with a detective to talk about the case, the court documents say.

Police finally caught up with her when a state police trooper received a tip about Goodine-Mitchell’s involvement in Reali’s death, and that she was hiding out at her boyfriend’s home in Old Orchard Beach.

The trooper also informed the MDEA that Goodine-Mitchell was wanted by her probation officer for failing to check in, and a probation hold had been placed on her, meaning any contact with police would result in an arrest.

With the assistance of an Old Orchard Beach detective, MDEA investigators located Goodine-Mitchell and took her into custody on the probation hold. She was charged for her alleged role in Reali’s death while incarcerated.

Steele, too, was in Cumberland County Jail on other charges. In his case, it was two instances involving alleged possession of fentanyl.

Both Goodine-Mitchell and Steele were being held at the Cumberland County Jail on Friday night.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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