Legal agreement tied to fatal drug lab explosion could lead to dismissed charges

(Photo: Madeleine Wright/WPRI)

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Court documents indicate an agreement between the government and a defendant could lead to the dismissal of federal charges against the badly burned survivor of a deadly fire and explosion that investigators blamed on a drug lab.

The fiery blast in the summer of 2015 at the end of Hemlock Road rocked the South Kingstown neighborhood, where some thought the home that briefly caught fire was empty.

The fire started in the kitchen on July 31, 2015.

But investigators allege Dillon Kantlehner, 28, and Brett Carano, 27, of West Warwick, were in the kitchen early in the morning on July 31, cooking marijuana into the derivative known as butane hash oil (BHO).

Firefighters said the house was knocked off its foundation by the early morning blast.

The 2016 indictment that charged Kantlehner with two counts including endangering human life while illegally manufacturing a controlled substance states Carano died from fire-related injuries about three months after the incident.

Kantlehner was hospitalized with burns through September 2015.

The Hemlock Road home exploded when butane gas was exposed to a heat source, possibly just “a spark,” according to the indictment.

A motion filed in November states both sides were “actively trying to reach a non-trial disposition” at that time.

Two weeks after a trial notice went out in the middle of last month, a motion to continue was filed, stating:

“The parties have now reached agreement and require more time to draft a Diversion Agreement, execute it, and refer it to United States Probation for review.”

According to a local legal expert, a diversion agreement sets up terms and conditions for a defendant that if followed would lead to the charges being dismissed by the government.

Neither the government nor the defendant’s attorney have responded to requests for comment about this case or the agreement.

The motion filed on Jan. 29 indicates the process takes about 60 days.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.