Rockford man accused of selling fentanyl-laced drugs that killed DeKalb man gets January trial date

Antwine Blake, 37, of the 400 block of North Hinckley Avenue in Rockford, is charged with drug induced homicide, a class X felony, and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, DeKalb County court records show. Blake appeared before a DeKalb County judge Oct. 13, 2022 and demanded a speedy trial, which has been set for Jan. 1, 2023. (Inset photo provided by DeKalb County Jail, courthouse photo by Mark Black for Shaw Local)

SYCAMORE – A Rockford man is accused of selling drugs to a DeKalb 29-year-old the night before the man died from a fatal overdose, court records show, and Thursday he asked a judge to expedite his trial.

Antwine M. Blake, 37, of the 400 block of North Hinckley Avenue in Rockford is charged with drug-induced homicide, a class X felony, and unlawful delivery of less than 1 gram of controlled substance, DeKalb County court records show. If convicted of the most serious crime, Blake could face up to 30 years in jail and would not be eligible for parole, DeKalb County Judge Joseph Pedersen said during a bond hearing Thursday.

Blake is accused of selling cocaine and heroin to John Lange, 29, of DeKalb the evening of Jan. 31. The next morning, Lange was found dead in a bathroom, a death prosecutors said was caused by drugs Blake later told police he’d sold to Lange that night, according to court records.

The drugs contained fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid meant to treat pain but when mixed with other narcotics can be fatal.

Although he was represented by the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office during his bond hearing, Blake spoke out in his own defense Thursday, telling Pedersen he didn’t realize he had a DeKalb warrant out for his arrest and asked for a speedy trial.

“I had been working this whole time that this warrant had been issued,” Blake said. “I didn’t intend to be on the run. I never knew I had a warrant that was issued for my arrest. ... No one contacted Rockford with my court system to let them know. I would’ve been in custody. I done lost a job because of this that I had no knowledge of having a warrant about.”

A warrant was issued for Blake’s arrest in April 2022 after drug toxicology and autopsy reports confirmed Lange died of cocaine and fentanyl intoxication.

Blake wasn’t arrested on the drug-induced homicide charges until Wednesday, however, records show.

Assistant State’s Attorney Brooks Locke asked Pedersen to keep Blake’s bond at the amount first issued from the warrant, $150,000, citing the nature of the charges and Blake’s criminal history of eight prior convictions, including two prior sentences to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Blake was sentenced to six years after a 2016 conviction of being an armed habitual criminal, and four years after a 2008 domestic battery conviction, Pedersen said.

Records show Lange was found dead less than 24 hours after he allegedly bought the drugs from Blake.

Police had been called to an apartment in the 1000 block of North 13th Street in DeKalb about 11:56 a.m. Feb. 1 for reports of a man in need of medical assistance, records show. When police arrived, they found Lange dead in a bathroom inside the apartment with drug-related items near him.

Police interviewed a DeKalb woman who told investigators she and Lange had just bought cocaine and heroine from a man in Rockford the evening prior, Jan. 31, after Lange had said he was out of drugs prior to the sale.

According to court records, the woman contacted Blake to arrange for another drug sale, and Blake reportedly agreed to meet her in DeKalb to sell her the same combination of drugs he had sold to Lange. When Blake arrived Feb. 1, he was contacted by DeKalb police officers, records show. Blake identified Lange from a photograph and told police he’d met with Lange in Rockford and sold him cocaine and heroine on Jan. 31, records allege.

He was arrested Feb. 1 by DeKalb police on an outstanding out-of-county warrant, said DeKalb Police Cmdr Bob Redel. Blake told court the court Thursday he was released from jail March 11.

Defense attorney Chip Criswell of the public defender’s office asked that Blake be released on a recognizance bond, stating what he said was Blake’s good record of court attendance despite his “lengthy history.”

“Obviously, Mr. Blake’s presumed to be innocent of these charges,” Criswell said.

Pedersen set Blake’s bond at $150,000, referring in his ruling to Blake’s prior convictions in 2016 and a domestic battery conviction in 2008 for which he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Blake could have to post $15,000 to be released from jail.

In response to the ruling, Blake demanded a speedy trial, declining his defense attorney’s offer to file a motion for bond reduction.

“I don’t want bond reduction,” Blake said. “I just want to go to trial.”

Blake’s trial has been set for 10 a.m. Jan. 9 at the DeKalb County Courthouse. He’s also scheduled for an arraignment at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26.

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