Attorney argues defendant's cousin should be prosecuted.

BARNSTABLE — A Tisbury man pleaded not guilty Monday in Barnstable Superior Court to involuntary manslaughter for the overdose death of his cousin's girlfriend.

Jason Willoughby, 33, also pleaded not guilty to distribution of a class B substance and conspiracy to violate the Controlled Substances Act. He was indicted in October by a Dukes County grand jury.

Willoughby's case was one of a number of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket cases that were heard in the Barnstable court Monday.

His attorney, Robert Moriarty, asked Judge Robert Rufo to release his client on his own recognizance or a low bail.

The law is supposed to recognize the ability of defendants to pay bail, he said.

"He's as close to a pauper as you're going to get," he said. "He's been locked up since September."

Moriarty said his client always shows up for his court hearings.

The strongest reason to set a low bail, he said, was the flimsiness of the case, because it depended solely on the word of Willoughby's cousin, Leo Willoughby, 60, who received immunity.

"This is a person they should prosecute," Moriarty said, referring to the cousin.

He alleged that Leo Willoughby has been given preferential treatment by police because he has been an informant for many years and that he has caused multiple fatal overdoses by injecting his victims in attempts to make them pass out so he could rob them.

"They gave immunity to the Grim Reaper of Martha's Vineyard," Moriarty said.

He said he obtained the incident reports on those overdoses from most police departments on Martha's Vineyard through public records requests, but the Tisbury department was refusing to hand over its reports because it knew why he was requesting them.

Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Jessica Croker said she had no evidence that Leo Willoughby was responsible for any deaths and that he told officers that he injected drugs, passed out, and when he woke up, his girlfriend was dead.

"In my review, he didn't inject these victims," she said of Leo Willoughby.

Rufo set Jason Willoughby's bail at $5,000.

"I don't know if he's going to be able to post that, but I would like to be able to try this case in April," Moriarty said.

Trial has been tentatively scheduled for April 16.

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