Stakes rise in O.D. case; murder charge is filed
By Rod Leveque, Staff Writer
RANCHO CUCAMONGA - An Ontario man accused of failing to help his girlfriend as she died of a drug overdose is now facing a murder charge.
Andrew Girvan had been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the August death of 23-year-old Miranda Daly.
Prosecutors upped the charge Friday, saying they now believe Girvan was not only negligent but malicious when he failed to summon medical help for the woman and then interfered with other people who tried to step in.
"By allowing her to die in the way she did, he acted in conscious disregard of human life," Deputy District Attorney Michael Dowd said. "So we feel this is an appropriate charge."
The manslaughter charge carried a penalty of up to four years in prison. The second-degree murder count could land Girvan behind bars for as long as 15 years to life.
The new charge marks a remarkable turn of events in the case.
Daly's family and friends initially had trouble persuading the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to consider Daly's death a homicide.
The circumstances of the death posed tricky legal issues for prosecutors because it generally is not illegal for an average citizen to refuse to help someone in need.
Only after heavy lobbying by Daly's mother, Debbe Case, did prosecutors charge Girvan, 31, with manslaughter.
That charge cleared a major legal hurdle last week when a judge ruled prosecutors had sufficient evidence to take Girvan to trial.
Three witnesses testified at a preliminary hearing that they were inside Girvan's home with Daly in the early morning of Aug. 12 as she slowly slipped away from an excess of morphine and Ecstasy.
All three said it was clear to them that the woman was dying as she lay unconscious for more than six hours.
They testified that they pleaded with Girvan to allow them to take the woman to a hospital, but he refused.
They said Girvan, a reputed drug dealer, walked around the house with a gun and led them to believe they would be harmed if they contacted authorities.
Dowd said the strength of that testimony prompted him and his supervisors to re-evaluate the case.
The prosecutor also said he believed evidence in the hearing suggested Girvan supplied Daly with the drugs.
Girvan's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Donna Fernandez, did not return a call seeking comment Friday afternoon.
Fernandez said last week that she believed prosecutors were stretching to charge her client with manslaughter, and she was considering filing a motion to have the charge dismissed.