Willoughby arraigned in woman’s overdose death

Bail set at $5,000 on manslaughter, drug charges after defense argues down from $50,000.

Robert Moriarty represented Jason Willoughby at his arraignment in Barnstable Superior Court Monday.

Updated 5:30 pm

Jason Willoughby was arraigned on a manslaughter charge Monday in Barnstable Superior Court for his alleged role in the death of a woman from a drug overdose. He was indicted by a Dukes County grand jury on Oct. 18.

Willoughby pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge, as well as distribution of a Class B substance (fentanyl), and conspiracy to violate the Controlled Substance Act. The arraignment was held off-Island because Dukes County Superior Court is not in session. Willoughby’s bail was set at $5,000 by Judge Robert Rufo at the close of the arraignment. Jessica Croker, an assistant district attorney, had argued that bail should be set at $50,000. Jason Willoughby would not be able to afford $50,000 bail, Moriarty told the judge in arguing for a lower bail for his client.

“You have to differentiate between paupers and plutocrats, and he’s as close to a pauper as you’re going to get,” Moriarty said. Moriarty also cited the reliability that Willoughby has exhibited in showing up for past court dates.

According to Croker, Willoughby allegedly supplied the drugs that led to the woman’s death.

The hearing provided a window into Moriarty’s defense strategy. Moriarty argued that it was Leo Willoughby, the cousin of Jason Willoughby’s father, who is responsible for injecting the woman with a lethal cocktail of drugs that included fentanyl. He alleged that Leo Willoughby was also present when another Island woman died of an overdose, and referred to him as the “Grim Reaper of Martha’s Vineyard.” Moriarty further alleged Leo Willoughby was party to other overdoses on the Vineyard, and that incapacitating people with drugs to rob them was his modus operandi.

Croker told the judge that the evidence does not support the theory that Leo Willoughby injected the woman with drugs. “There’s no evidence in my possession or any evidence that was presented to the grand jury that Leo Willoughby injected the deceased,” she said.

“This case is wholly dependent on the word of Leo Willoughby,” Moriarty said.

Moriarty described Leo Willoughby as a “notorious drug addict” and a “notorious drug dealer” who has been a confidential informant for the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force. Work as an informant has immunized Leo Willoughby from prosecution, Moriarty said.

“This is not a person that they should be asking a jury to believe beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “It’s a person they should be prosecuting.”

Moriarty predicted that Leo Willoughby’s testimony would “be completely and utterly destroyed in cross-examination.”

A trial date of April 16 was scheduled in Dukes County Superior Court.

Updated to add more details. – Ed.


  1. Will someone please notify me when a bartender serves someone who then leaves the establishment and accidentally crosses the line of a one-lane highway and kills an oncoming driver, but survives themselves. Surely, the same manslaughter charges would then apply to that case, with or without the logic and/or common sense that should be required in ALL criminal casses ! Look, we all get it. This guy is no angel, but that does not mean that he or anyone should be accountable for the nature and act of being a consenting adult drug addict. A SEVERE CRACKDOWN ON FENTANYL will save the lives of many, not the contrived charge of manslaughter!

  2. Seriously, something else needs to be done about this opioid crisis. One man who was accused of allegedly selling fentanyl to a known drug addict and informant who in return told investigators that he himself (Leo) had given her the drugs that ultimately killed her. HE called the police when he found her and asked if he should administer Narcan.Obviously you should! There are multiple accounts of this exact situation involving Leo Willoughby. Where he is present at multiple fatal overdoses where he supplied the drugs that ended up killing them. He is known for injecting people with drugs and then steals them for himself. In my opinion he is being protected by the DEA and is blaming an innocent man (Jason Willoughby) just to save his own a$$ for the crimes he (Leo) committed. He supplied her drugs, he injected her and when he woke up from his own “drug induced blackout” found her dead and needed someone to blame it on. What does he blame the people he steals from with the crimes he commits too. This is So unreal. Even with all that said about him maybe they should do more for him instead of throwing him out in the middle of drugs, what good is coming out of this people are dying and others lives and reputation is being ruined because of one mans word who has a extensive criminal record.

  3. I agree with Be Bop, this is not the way to end the opioid problem. I also say that the actual addict has to take responsibility too.

  4. accountability..eh? so, according to the reasoning underlying the indictment, a dealer in firearms should be held accountable for death resulting from the use of firearms sold and not the person who shot the bullet/shot the drugs (in this case). Drug addicts who cause the death of fellow drug addicts are not to be held accountable..sort of a wild west free for all for drug users- above the law. Does this make sense? Agree with Bebop, a severe crackdown on fentanyl is what’s needed. Not this.

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