Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Dealer in OD Death Sentenced

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Dealer in OD Death Sentenced

Article excerpt

A Charleston man who originally faced a murder charge in the overdose death of a woman last year, but pleaded guilty to much lesser charges, still committed serious crimes, a judge told him Monday. Steven Craig Coleman, 28, was sentenced to spend a year in jail - the maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor. He admitted at a plea hearing in April to providing the dose of heroin that killed Melody Ann Oxley.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey also ordered Coleman to spend between one and three years in prison for attempting to deliver a controlled substance, a felony.

"Whether a misdemeanor or felony, it's the death of someone," Bailey said about the involuntary manslaughter charge.

She said the sentences should run consecutively, one after the other.

Coleman will get credit for the time he's already spent in jail - more than a year, Bailey said.

Coleman had asked the judge to place him in a drug rehabilitation center, rather than sending him back to jail.

"I'm asking not for mercy but for help, Coleman said.

But Bailey said he should use the time incarcerated to get an education and figure out something to do with his life, besides use and abuse drugs.

"The only occupation you have engaged in is drug dealing, and there is no greater problem this community faces than the proliferation of drugs. And what do we have as a result of the proliferation of drugs? Death, the judge said.

Coleman read a lengthy letter, in which he apologized for his role in the death of Oxley, 43. Her three daughters sat quiet in the courtroom Monday.

Coleman explained that his own mother had died from a drug overdose. He was the one who found her dead.

"The truth is, I'm not a violent person, I never have been, he said. "I'm an addict. My mother was an addict, my father is an addict, my brother and uncle are addicts. …

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