Man sentenced to 14 years in former local rugby player’s overdose death

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SAN DIEGO — A judge sentenced an El Cajon man to 14 years in prison for distributing fentanyl, including a dose that killed a former local rugby player.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday that 33-year-old Christopher Glenn Emison was sentenced to 168 months in prison for distributing more than 40 grams of fentanyl, including some that caused the death of 45-year old Derrick Hotchkiss.

Prosecutors said Hotchkiss, who played rugby for the San Diego Old Aztecs Rugby Football Club for many years, overdosed on fentanyl at his San Diego home on April 11, 2019. Law enforcement searched Hotchkiss’ cellphone and found a text exchange between Emison and Hotchkiss indicating Emison sold fentanyl to Hotchkiss the night before his death, prosecutors said.

Police executed a search warrant at Emison’s home on the day Hotchkiss died and seized 11.6 grams of fentanyl and 95.6 grams of heroin residue. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said officers also found a loaded Ruger .357 Magnum revolver on Emison’s bed, a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle, more than 1,000 rounds of various caliber ammunition, a hash oil extraction laboratory and other items.

Emison claimed to have warned Hotchkiss about the drug’s strength. Officials said the text messages he apparently sent with that warning after he sold the fentanyl didn’t receive a response and apparently came too late.

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said fentanyl has claimed more than 300 lives in San Diego County so far this year.

Hotchkiss’ mother, who addressed the court at sentencing, said her life was shattered when she was told her son died. He leaves behind a young son.

The Old Aztecs Rugby Football Club said, “We continue to grieve our beloved Deez…Saturdays won’t be the same; he was a large man with a heart to match.”

Jeffrey Alden Blair, a co-defendant in the case, pleaded guilty on Feb. 26 and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov 23.

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