Yuba County Inmate Pleads No-Contest in Fatal Overdose of Fellow Inmate
Above: Aaron Charles Henning file photo | Photos courtesy of Yuba County D.A.’s Office
A Yuba County man has pleaded no contest in connection to the fatal fentanyl overdose of a fellow inmate, as well as the fentanyl poisoning of two other inmates.
According to a press release by the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office, Aaron Charles Henning, 45, pleaded no contest to several charges, including involuntary manslaughter, in connection with the fentanyl poisoning and in-custody death of Matthew Perez on November 2, 2022, as well as the fentanyl poisoning of two other inmates. Henning is scheduled to be sentenced on May 1 of this year and will face an agreed-upon sentence of 12 years and 4 months in state prison.
On October 26, 2022, Henning was arrested by agents from the Yuba-Sutter Narcotic and Gang Enforcement Team for possessing fentanyl for sale. During his arrest, the agents seized over an ounce of fentanyl, and Henning was booked into the Yuba County jail. Despite being in custody, Henning managed to conceal and smuggle an additional half ounce of fentanyl into the jail, the District Attorney’s Office said.
On November 2, 2022, Yuba County inmate Matthew Perez became unresponsive and died despite life-saving measures by jail staff. The following day, two other inmates lost consciousness from fentanyl poisoning but were revived by medical staff. An autopsy later determined that Perez died from fentanyl poisoning.
Yuba County Sheriff’s Detectives reviewed hours of video surveillance and conducted numerous interviews to try to identify who smuggled and distributed the fentanyl into the jail. Detectives faced challenges investigating the crime, as victims and witnesses in such cases often refuse to cooperate. However, their persistence eventually led them to Henning.
As part of his plea agreement, Henning admitted to smuggling and distributing the fentanyl into the jail and providing it to the three men who were poisoned, including Matthew Perez.
According to the CDC, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times stronger than morphine, and is one of the leading causes of fatal overdoses in the country. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors as a high-strength painkiller, but the substance can also be illicitly manufactured, and most fatal overdoses are due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl.