Man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter involving drug overdose

By Linda Cicoira

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A Cheriton drug dealer was sent to North Carolina as part of his “regular” job as a dump truck operator in June of 2020. While he was out-of-town, his 18-year-old girlfriend, an addict, took over his illegal sales and consumed enough heroin and fentanyl to die of a drug overdose.

Thirty-one-year-old Corey Nequan Reid, of Cheriton Crossroad, who was also described as a drug addict, was initially charged with the second-degree murder of Melanie Renee Baum, possession with intent to distribute Schedule I or II drugs, conspiracy to distribute the drugs, and soliciting Baum to distribute the drugs.

Judge W. Revell Lewis III, of Northampton Circuit Court, accepted a plea agreement Thursday made between Reid and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jack Thornton. Reid pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter and to possession with intent to distribute illegal drugs, which was a second offense for the defendant. Reid was convicted in Accomack, in 2017, for selling cocaine.

The distribution conviction comes with a minimum three-year prison term. Thornton will not prosecute the other drug offenses. He did not ask the judge for a specific sentence. Thornton wanted at least enough suspended time that could be reimposed, to keep Reid in line. A long-form presentence report was ordered and sentencing was set for March 2023.

Reid testified that he decided to plead guilty rather than ask a jury to find him innocent in an effort to accept responsibility for what happened. “I’m not here to make any excuses,” he said. “My life needs to be in a different direction. My actions impact others. I’m sorry. Given a second chance, I will make amendments to the community.”

Baum’s death was not thought to be deliberate. But “there is no doubt she would still be here if he hadn’t left drugs with her,” Thornton said. And it was clear Baum was selling drugs for Reid. Evidence showed buyers sent Baum texts saying Reid sent them and that she asked Reid and her cousin how much to charge. Cocaine, heroin, meth, and fentanyl were found at the couple’s home along with packaging and compression materials.

“We had an 18-year-old making decisions on her own and drinking and drugging frequently when she chose to,” said defense lawyer Carl Bundick. He added that she was partying with a life-long friend that night, who realized she was unresponsive and didn’t call for assistance for an hour.


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