Landen Hausman, a 16-year-old sophomore at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, died of an overdose in January. Credit: Photo provided

The father of a student at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda who died of a fentanyl overdose in January says he hopes that something positive results from the prosecution of the man who authorities say sold drugs to his son.

Landen Hausman, 16, of Bethesda died Jan. 17 at his home after crushing and snorting what he thought was a Percocet pill. An autopsy determined the pill was counterfeit and had been laced with fentanyl.

Since Landen’s death, his father Marc has been speaking out about his son’s struggles with anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

“… A lot of people ask me, is this some sort of justice for Landen? And candidly we don’t really view it that way,” Marc Hausman told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday. “If the increased awareness of the risks posed by fentanyl help other families deal with a similar situation before the tragic ending that our family experienced, then that’s what’s most important to us.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced that Mikiyas Maryie Kefyalew, 24, of Silver Spring had been indicted on charges of distributing fentanyl leading to the death of a minor.

In April, Montgomery County police arrested Kefyalew, saying at the time that he sold counterfeit Percocet pills containing fentanyl to a 16-year-old from Bethesda.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a forensic analysis of Landen Hausman’s cellphone revealed multiple conversations with Kefyalew about meeting for a drug transaction. Additionally, a witness told authorities that Hausman purchased “percs” from Kefyalew – small blue pills that matched the description of the pill found at the time of Hausman’s death.

Authorities executed a search warrant on Kefyalew’s vehicle in March and found two cellphones, one of which included “multiple messages indicative of drug trafficking,” according to the affidavit. In October 2021, Kefyalew allegedly told someone that “people using ‘percs’ should get Narcan to prevent overdoses,” referring to a medication used to treat opioid overdoses.

Additionally, Kefyalew was issued a citation in August 2021 for the possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana in which authorities found a small blue pill containing fentanyl, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Marc Hausman said Wednesday that while he and his family support the investigation and prosecution of Kefyalew, he can’t discuss the case in detail because he is a witness for the prosecution. However, he thinks there is an important lesson to be learned from the family’s tragedy.

“We understand that Landen made a choice that was very tragic, and he didn’t get a second chance,” he said. “All that being said, if this person charged ends up being convicted, what I can tell you is, this person also made a choice. This person chose to be a drug dealer for underage children. And if it’s proven to be true, that choice does have consequences.”

“For us, bringing a level of awareness and bringing meaning to Landen’s life is important. But it’s also important if you’ve got someone in the community who is knowingly selling dangerous narcotics to underage children, you really have to get that person off the street.”

If Kefyalew is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Amy Fitzgibbons, a federal public defender representing Kefyalew, did not immediately respond to a phone call or email from Bethesda Beat on Wednesday.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com