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Alleged Daly City drug dealer charged with murder after woman dies from fentanyl overdose

Fentanyl crisis: What makes the drug so deadly
Fentanyl crisis: What makes the drug so deadly 03:08

DALY CITY – A Daly City man has been charged with murder for allegedly selling fentanyl to a woman who died from an overdose, prosecutors said.

According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe's office, 56-year-old Phillip Thei Ng was arraigned in a Redwood City courtroom Wednesday. During the hearing, an attorney from the county's Private Defender Program was appointed to represent Ng and the case was continued to May 22.

On May 6, 2023, 29-year-old Sarah Tillman was found dead in her San Mateo apartment by police performing a welfare check. The coroner determined Tillman died of a fentanyl overdose.

According to prosecutors, the victim was a Harvard University graduate and had struggled with various forms of addiction and alcoholism while she was seeking admission to medical school.

Prosecutors said Tillman met Ng and began purchasing drugs from him in early 2023. In March of that year, she suffered a near-fatal overdose but was revived by Narcan.

Following the overdose, she warned Ng that he had nearly killed her with the drugs he sold her. Prosecutors said text messages also showed that he sold her drugs near the time she died.

A spokesperson from the DA's office told CBS News Bay Area that it is the first time the county has charged an alleged dealer with murder for supplying fentanyl that led to a person's death. 

Last year, a jury in Placer County was the first in the state to convict a fentanyl dealer of murder. Nathaniel Cabacungan, 21, is serving a sentence of 15 years to life in prison after being found guilty of selling the drug to a 15-year-old girl who died in 2022.

According to jail records, Ng remains held in the San Mateo County Jail without bail.

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