An Effingham man charged with drug-induced homicide has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful delivery of controlled substance.

Darnell L. Whitehead, 50, last week pleaded guilty to the Class 2 felony and was sentenced to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections followed by two years of supervised mandatory release. Whitehead will be credited 386 days for time served.

As part of the negotiated plea, the drug-induced homicide charge, a Class X felony, and another count of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance were dismissed.

Whitehead was arrested in April of last year in connection with the 2019 death of another Effingham man. Authorities said Whitehead sold a fatal drug to 25-year-old Keith Lasher.

Lasher was found dead in October 2019 at a residence along U.S. Route 40, west of Lake Sara Road. Toxicology reports showed Lasher died of a fentanyl overdose.

Probable cause in the case showed that in late October 2019 Lasher and Whitehead were communicating via electronic devices and discussed Lasher purchasing drugs from Whitehead. Lasher then bought what Whitehead later admitted to be cocaine and subsequently overdosed.

Lasher’s autopsy showed he died of a fentanyl overdose. The state did not believe Whitehead knew the substance was fentanyl and not cocaine.

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