For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 25

" I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. "
Drug Distribution Resulting in Death After
United States v. Semler
Mariana Rossman
" Suppose you have lunch with a friend, order
two hamburgers, and when your hamburgers
are ready you pick them up at the food counter
and bring them back to the table and he eats
one and you eat the other. It would be very odd
to describe what you had done as 'distributing'
the food to him. " 1
I
n United States v. Semler,2 a panel of the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals addresses this seemingly
obvious question, albeit replacing the juicy
hamburger with the shared use of illicit drugs. The
case centers around the heroin overdose death of
Jennifer Werstler. The defendant, Emma Semler,
was convicted of distribution of heroin resulting in
Werstler's death, a conviction which carries a twentyyear
mandatory minimum sentence.3
A recitation of
the facts - particularly the drug purchase transaction
Adding more heartbreak to an already tragic
Vol. 6, Issue 4 l For The Defense 25
- is important here, as the Court relies on them heavily
in its
reasoning and decision to ultimately vacate
Semler's conviction and remand for a new trial.
Semler and Werstler were both addicted to heroin
and had met in a drug rehabilitation facility. On the
night in question, Werstler, who had just returned to
Pennsylvania to attend a drug-related court hearing,
reached out to Semler looking to score heroin.
Specifically, she reached out to Semler via Facebook
Messenger asking, " Can we go get some??? " .4
Semler
responded that she knew of a place, but Werstler
would need to provide transportation. Werstler said
she could get transportation and asked Semler if she
could front her the money for the heroin as well as a
syringe and water for injection. Semler agreed.

For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4

Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 1
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 2
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 4
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 5
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 6
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 7
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 8
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For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 24
For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 25
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For the Defense - Vol. 6, Issue 4 - 54
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