A man accused of selling heroin that led to a fatal overdose in Bowling Green will remain free on bond ahead of his trial, which is set to begin next month.
U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Stivers warned Damone Bell, 23, of Louisville, that any future violation of his bond would lead to his detention before his trial, which is scheduled Feb. 19 in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.
Bell is charged with distributing a controlled substance and possessing a mixture of heroin and fentanyl with the intent to distribute. Federal prosecutors look to hold Bell responsible for the July 30, 2018, overdose death of Kaitlin McKinney, 23, of Bowling Green.
A final pretrial conference, which took place Wednesday, had been set before Assistant U.S. Attorney Jo Lawless filed a motion to revoke Bell’s bond.
Bell was arrested the day after McKinney’s death and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond Aug. 2, 2018, following a detention hearing in Louisville before U.S. Magistrate Judge Colin Lindsay.
Lawless argued that Bell’s two positive drug tests for marijuana, one in August and the second last month, amounted to violations of his bond and showed he could not follow the court’s orders.
In a response filed Tuesday, Bell’s attorney, federal public defender Pat Bouldin, argued that Bell had not been charged with or alleged to have committed any crimes of violence or drug trafficking during his release, has maintained employment and attended every court date.
“His alleged bond violations are not an indication that he is a danger to the community given the nature of those alleged violations,” Bouldin said in his response.
In court Wednesday, Bouldin argued that the positive drug tests did not prove that Bell was a danger to the community and noted that the probation office supervising Bell did not recommend that his bond be revoked.
Stivers’ ruling allows Bell to remain free, but the judge made it clear that he expected Bell to comply with all conditions of his bond until trial.
“There’s zero tolerance from this point forward,” Stivers said, addressing Bell. “So if anything else happens, the probation officer is going to contact me and we will have a detention hearing. When I say zero tolerance, that’s what I mean.”
Court records show Bell sold the drugs to McKinney and her boyfriend on the day of her death.
Law enforcement arrested Bell the next day after McKinney’s boyfriend identified him from a photo lineup as the person who sold the drugs and, in cooperation with police, arranged a second drug transaction with Bell that resulted in the arrest.