The push to charge alleged drug dealers in connection with heroin overdoses

Wendell Holley is still fighting for justice a year after his son's overdose. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Wendell Holley is still fighting for justice a year after his son's overdose. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Gregg Blackman, the man accused of contributing to Christopher Holley's death. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Gregg Blackman, the man accused of contributing to Christopher Holley's death. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As the Shelby County District Attorney's Office and local Law Enforcement work to put alleged drug dealers behind bars in connection with heroin overdoses, the WMC Action News 5 Investigators are digging into just one of the cases traveling through the Criminal Court.

We visited the Shelby County Criminal Court with the family of Christopher Holley, who died of a heroin-related drug overdose in August 2016.

Holley's father, Wendell Holley, shared photographs of his son. Christopher Holley loved to fish, hunt, and was his father's best friend.

"It's wrecked my life. It really has," Holley said.

Holley shows up to court every time Gregg Blockman is scheduled to appear.

On August 21, Blockman entered the courtroom with a shoulder shimmy and a kiss to the onlookers in the courtroom gallery. Holley watches it all.

"He's not here to defend himself, and I want to be his voice for him," Holley said.

Holly believes Blockman is responsible for killing his son.

"All he's doing is selling murder. That's the bottom line," Holley said.

Blockman is charged with second-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Christopher Holley. Holley died from a heroin-related drug overdose after he was d ropped off at the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital on August 14, 2016.

Blockman is an accused drug dealer. He is one of 10 people arrested in Memphis in the last year and a half, accused of supplying heroin leading to a person's death.

Christopher's father knew he had a drug problem, but what they didn't know was that he would end up in a cemetery. His father said he believes if users are caught, they should face criminal charges and have a chance to be rehabilitated, but he also believes if a person is caught selling drugs they should face serious jail time.

"There are almost 30 arrests there," Holley said as he flipped through the criminal record of Blockman.

Blockman has a record of 31 arrests in Shelby County. Nearly a dozen of the charges are drug-related, with criminal intent to sell. Holley's family said the record shows how easy it is for alleged drug dealers to slip through the cracks of our criminal justice system.

"I just don't want to see it slide through the system. I want to make sure my son gets justice," Holley said.

This year. a special prosecutor in the Shelby County District Attorney's Office was hired to help bring justice to families like Holley's, but bringing charges is difficult. A DA's representative says investigators must track down who supplied the drugs, with few eyewitnesses willing to talk.

According to an interview with Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings back in January 2017, there were 122 heroin overdoses in Memphis in 2016.

That is a 35 percent increase from the 27 reported deaths 2015. Only five people were charged in connection with those deaths.

"In my opinion, everybody selling the Fentanyl-laced heroin--they don't need to get a murder charge. They need to get the death penalty," Holley said.

Wendell Holley said he will continue to fight against illegal drugs, including those who use them and those who sell them.

"I hurt for him every day and the people selling it, they need to pay for this," Holley said.

A second man, 48-year-old Tommy Armstrong, was also charged with second-degree murder in connection to Holley's death. He's accused of driving Holley to Greg Blockman's house to buy the heroin.

Armstrong, a few weeks ago, was found dead of a suspected overdose.

Greg Blockman's hearing was rescheduled last week. We reached out to his attorney, but have not heard back so far.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.