HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico mother who lost her teenage daughter to a drug overdose is fighting to put her daughter's dealer in jail- for murder. Amanda Blankenship, 19, was found lifeless in a hotel room last month, after her parents say she overdosed on heroin.
In Virginia, it's not possible to charge a dealer with murder if a person they sold to overdoses. Amanda's mother, Michelle Traylor, is pushing to change that with a new law.
Amanda Blankenship's straight A's and passion for dance easily helped her get accepted into VCU, after she graduated Hanover High School a year early.
"She had the biggest, brightest smile," said Michelle Traylor of her daughter.
However, Traylor says her daughter fought a serious heroin addiction. A poem in Amanda's journal describes her struggle. "I just keep hoping and waiting, my mind dark...and my faith fading. What's life worth anymore, when you're just living to score?" read Traylor, from the diary.
Family support, rehab, and even jail time, couldn't pull Amanda from the dark crowd she had fallen into. On February 27th, Amanda checked into a Henrico hotel with a group of friends. Her body was found lifeless the next morning.
"I want to know who gave her those drugs... who supplied her those drugs," demanded Traylor.
Traylor doesn't know where her daughter bought drugs, who exactly was is with her the night she died. Police are investigating. However, Traylor is determined to find the answers somehow- and hold that dealer responsible for her daughter's life.
"They need to be held accountable. They are killing people," said Traylor of drug dealers, selling to people who then overdose, and die.
House Bill 1427, sponsored by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, would have allowed dealers to be charged with murder in cases like Amanda's. However the bill died in the General Assembly's latest session.
Traylor is now lobbying for the bill to pass next year, and already started a Facebook group, supporting the legislation, which she hopes to name Amanda's Law.
"I know that Amanda had responsibility in this. I don't deny that. But Amanda was preyed upon," said Traylor.
The ACLU is not in support of this legislation. The group writes in a position paper:
"After more than 40 years of the War on Drugs, we know one thing for sure – imposing harsh punishments on suppliers hasn't solved the problem, but has cost the taxpayers of the Commonwealth millions of dollars... The Commonwealth would be much better served by redirecting that money to treatment programs and other proven effective ways for reducing drug dependency and saving lives. It is an expensive, ineffective approach."
Representative Lingamfelter says he plans to introduce the bill in 2016, and will not back down until it is passed.