WLOS — ASHEVILLE – An Asheville man will spend six months in prison and four years on supervised probation after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter related to a heroin overdose that left an 18 year-old dead.
Austin Thomas White, 19, was indicted in January with the offense of second-degree murder.
“Though this was the first prosecution of its kind in Buncombe County, North Carolina law has long authorized the charge of Second Degree Murder in deaths caused by the unlawful distribution of opium or opium derivative. In light of the opioid drug epidemic, whenever there is evidence of overdose caused by the illegal distribution of an opioid controlled substances, it is the policy of the District Attorney’s Office to charge Second Degree Murder. In this case, in light of Mr. White’s acceptance of responsibility, his youth, and the blessing of this plea negotiation by the victim’s mother, we reduced the Second Degree Murder charge to Involuntary Manslaughter with sentencing in the discretion of the Court," District Attorney Todd Williams said.
White is sentenced to serve a suspended sentence of 16 months minimum and 29 months maximum.
Before being released to the supervision of a probation officer, White will serve an active term of six months in the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections. Upon release from prison, White will be placed on nine months of electronic monitoring and will be subject to standard drug conditions prohibiting the use and possession of non-prescribed drugs.
As part of his probation, White will complete cognitive behavioral therapy, receive a mental health assessment, and remain employed. White was also ordered to pay a $500 fine and court costs.
On August 6, 2014 Asheville police officers were dispatched to the scene of a reported death. Upon arrival, officers spoke with the father of the victim who had discovered his daughter cold and unresponsive in her bedroom around 7 a.m. that morning.
He stated that his daughter had been struggling with an opioid addiction, and that family had made efforts to keep her under a close watch to limit her access to opioid drugs until she could be admitted to a treatment facility.
Later examination of the victim’s cell phone indicated that she received drugs from White, with White asking via text message, “Did you do that piece I gave you?”