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Minnesota man charged with murder for selling $10 worth of drugs that wound up killing 21-year-old

Aries Andres Velez

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A St. Paul man was charged with murder Thursday, Feb. 14, for selling $10 worth of drugs to a 21-year-old who fatally overdosed on the substances.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office charged Aries Andres Velez, 20, with one count of third-degree murder.

The charges come a little less than a year after police responded to a report of a man not breathing in a car parked outside a home on the 1600 block of Westminster Street in St. Paul last March 31, charges say.

Medics who responded to the scene determined Christopher Paul Wivholm was dead and police began investigating.

They learned from the homeowner that Wivholm had come over the previous evening to smoke marijuana. He said Wivholm eventually started asking about getting heroin, charges say.

The homeowner connected Wivholm with Velez, who also was at the house that evening. Velez subsequently sold Wivholm about $10 worth heroin, according to statements the homeowner made to police, the complaint said.

A short time later, he said Wivholm went out to his car “to chill out,” and remained there throughout the night.

Another person at the house that night told officers he checked on Wivholm around 1:30 a.m. and that he was “OK and had a pulse,” the complaint said.

Another said he was under the impression the homeowner was checking on Wivholm throughout the night.

Velez, who was interviewed months later while in jail on another matter, told police a slightly different story of what happened, charges say.

He said Wivholm and the homeowner both expressed interest in getting heroin that night and that the two went to the store together that evening to get cash to pay for the drugs, the complaint said.

They bought $10 worth of heroin from him, Velez said, adding that both Wivholm and the homeowner “smoked” it, the charges say.

They all went out to Wivholm’s car, he continued, saying that the homeowner told him at the time that he couldn’t feel any effect from the drugs, the complaint said. Meanwhile, he noticed that Wivholm fell asleep in the vehicle, according to the complaint.

Velez said he left shortly after that.

He went on to tell police that he wondered if the heroin was laced with fentanyl since it caused a fatal overdose, but said he wasn’t sure as he sold them exactly what he received from his supplier, charges say.

He reportedly added that he had nearly overdosed from drugs he purchased from the same supplier in the past.

An autopsy found THC and various forms of fentanyl in the victim’s system, but no heroin metabolites, the complaint said.

Velez’s criminal history includes past convictions for theft, burglary and driving while under the influence.

He was charged by warrant Thursday. No attorney was listed for him in court records.

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