SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — A drug dealer who sexually preyed on teenaged girls accepted a plea deal in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, according to court records.
Michael “Mikey” Russell, 24, of San Jose, pleaded no contest to seven felony charges earlier this month and he is scheduled to be sentenced in February. Under the plea deal, he is facing a 10-year prison sentence.
Russell was arrested by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in December of 2021. His arrest was made just weeks after a 16-year-old Santa Cruz girl, Emma Lace Price, died from a fentanyl overdose inside Russell’s parents’ house in Corralitos.
“Mikey Russell was engaged in an ultrahazardous activity – giving drugs including fentanyl to minors. Russell had a history of preying on young/underage girls,” states a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Price’s parents. “(The) home provided a place/opportunity for crimes against underage girls to occur. (Russell’s) conduct was despicable and done with malice and a knowing disregard for the rights and safety of (Price).”
“On at least two occasions prior to (Price’s death), he brought an underage girl to the property for sex and drugs,” the suit states.
The District Attorney’s Office filed a slew of charges against Russell: Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, sodomy with a child under 18 years old, communicating with a minor for sex acts, giving a minor a controlled substance, possessing explicit content of a minor, and destroying evidence.
According to the lawsuit, Russell gave Price Xanax and Percocet laced with fentanyl on Nov. 12, 2021. As she was visibly overdosing, instead of calling 911, Russell took off Price’s clothing and put her in a cold shower. When the girl failed to regain consciousness, Russell injected her with Narcan provided by his friend “Emily,” and attempted CPR, the lawsuit states. Thirty-minutes passed before anyone in the house called 911, according to the suit.
Price was still alive when deputies arrived, but barely breathing. She never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead that evening.
“(Russell) delayed getting medical help which decedent Lace Price desperately needed to save her life … to avoid criminal charges,” the lawsuit states.
Price died from acute fentanyl toxicity.
Russell accepted a plea deal on November 22 and waived his right to a jury trial. He remains behind bars in the Santa Cruz County Jail with no bail, inmate records show.