Northern California jail inmate faces murder charge in fentanyl death of fellow inmate

Prosecutors have charged a Northern California jail inmate with murder in the November death of a fellow inmate who ingested fentanyl smuggled into the jail.

Aaron Charles Henning, 44, is accused of murder in connection with the in-custody death of Matthew D. Perez, the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday in a news release. Henning remained in custody Friday at the Yuba County Jail.

The Yuba County District Attorney’s Office also filed one count of bringing drugs into a jail and two counts of illegal transportation of drugs for sale against Henning, according to Yuba Superior Court records. Henning faces enhancements on the charges for allegedly causing great bodily injury.

Henning appeared in court Thursday afternoon for his arraignment, which was postponed until Monday.

Jail records show Henning was initially booked at the jail Oct. 26 — a week before Perez’s death — on charges of possessing drugs for sale. Perez had been in jail since August on a charge of violating probation, court records show.

Sheriff’s detectives launched an investigation after Perez’s death on Nov. 2. The detectives determined Perez had ingested fentanyl smuggled into the jail and died from fentanyl poisoning. A toxicology report confirmed his cause of death.

Paramedics attempted life-saving measures including “repeated” doses of naloxone, used to reverse opioid overdoses, but Perez was pronounced dead at a hospital, the Sheriff’s Office has said.

During their investigation, the detectives also learned there was at least one other inmate who suffered fentanyl poisoning but survived due to life-saving efforts of jail and medical staff.

The detectives gathered evidence over the following weeks and arrested Henning on Tuesday on the murder and drug smuggling charges. The sheriff’s news release did not indicate how the fentanyl was smuggled into the jail.

The Sheriff’s Office has announced that the jail — beginning next month — will use a new “body scanner” on every person who enters the jail facility to screen for drugs and other items.