A 35-year-old Slidell man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the 2016 death of James Shelby, a 17-year-old St. Paul student who overdosed on synthetic marijuana.
Jamie D. Cooper of Slidell sold the drug, known as Mojo, to a middle man who then sold it to Shelby and another teenager. The two men each got $10 for the drug sale, according to the 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office.
Cooper is the second person to be plead guilty to negligent homicide and distribution charges related to the teenager's death. The first, Jarbari Pea, 25, was sentenced to five years in prison on a negligent homicide charge and 10 years on a distribution charge, with five of those suspended. Pea's sentences are being served concurrently.
Cooper was sentenced by Judge Scott Gardner as a second felony offender. He was sentenced to five years for the negligent homicide charge and 30 years on the distribution charge without the possibility of sentence reduction.
Shelby and a friend smoked the Mojo at the Columbia Street Landing on Bogue Falaya River on March 13, 2016. The two youths passed out, but when Shelby's friend woke up, he found Shelby face down in a ditch.
Shelby died from toxicity related to the drug and not from drowning. Officials said at that time of his death that it was the first time the youths had used Mojo.
Both Pea and Cooper had been indicted on second degree murder charges.
District Attorney Warren Montgomery said that the case should serve as a warning to young people and others about the dangers of manufactured drugs.
"Too many people, especially young people, are underestimating the danger of using marijuana and these synthetic compounds for recreation," he said. "The consequences can be serious, even deadly."
The same day that Shelby died, Ahmad Rashad Johnson, a 35-year-old Covington man, raped a woman after he gave her Mojo and she became severely disoriented, Montgomery said. Johnson was found guilty of third degree rape by a St. Tammany Parish jury.