Man guilty in wife's drug death
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Roane County man pleaded guilty this week to giving his wife two doses of a synthetic hallucinogen blamed for her death.
Todd Anthony Honaker, 34, of Left Hand, pleaded guilty on Monday to involuntary manslaughter in connection to the March 1 death of his wife, Renee, said Roane County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Downey.
As part of Honaker's plea, prosecutors agreed to drop first-degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance charges against him.
Roane Circuit Judge Thomas Evans sentenced Honaker to one year in Central Regional Jail with credit for nine months already served and a $1,000 fine.
Prosecutors could not charge Honaker with capital murder, Downey said, because a West Virginia law prohibiting synthetic drugs did not include synthetic hallucinogens.
Police initially thought Honaker gave his wife LSD, which is a controlled substance in the state. However, a medical examiner later determined that Renee Honker died after taking 25b-NBOMe, a synthetic hallucinogen.
Downey said designer marijuana and cocaine is prohibited in West Virginia, but not synthetic hallucinogens like 25b-NBOMe.
"I've been working with federal authorities and we came to an agreement that it was in the best interest of the case to offer [Honaker] a chance to plea to involuntary manslaughter," Downey said. "That's the only charge available in West Virginia based on the type of drug he gave her."
Federal authorities have decided to go after the man they believe manufactured the lethal synthetic drug, Downey said.
Honaker told police he received the 25b-NBOMe from Chad Michael Renzelman, a chemist at a nuclear power plan in Kennewick, Wash.
Renzelman, 32, allegedly mailed the drug to Todd Honaker inside an anniversary card with instructions to hold it under his tongue for 30 minutes, likening its effect to "flying."
Police in Washington searched Renzelman's home and allegedly found 150 jars of hallucinogenic mushrooms, eight containers of unknown liquids, and blotter paper soaked in an unknown liquid. He was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and extradited to West Virginia in March. Analysis of evidence found inside Renzelman's home in Washington are still pending.
Also as part of Honaker's plea, he agreed to cooperate with federal agents in their case against Renzelman, Downey said. A federal judge granted FBI agents access to Renzelman and Honaker's Facebook accounts earlier this month.
Eugenia Cook, Renee Honaker's mother, said she is disappointed by Todd Honaker's plea deal, which she feels is too light of a sentence.
"My heart aches with everything that this 'man' has put this family through, including his own 5-year-old daughter," Cook said in an email to the Gazette Tuesday. "He is a drug addict and always will be."
On March 1, Todd Honaker called 911 and said his wife had possibly been poisoned. Paramedics found Renee Honaker unresponsive on her living room floor. Police said Todd Honaker was found lying on his bed, repeatedly asking officers if his wife was dead.
Honaker said his wife began convulsing about 30 minutes after taking two doses of the drug, according to the affidavit. Before calling for help, Honaker put the remaining doses back inside the envelope, placed it in the trash and took the trash bag to the end of his driveway, according to the statement by police.
"My disappointment with the legal system right now cannot be expressed," Cook said in an email. "It just seems like catching up with the guy that created the drug is more important then the life of my daughter. She didn't even get to see her 30th birthday."
Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.