A Little Rock man who was using heroin with two other men outside a Sonic Drive-in in Cabot in 2011, just before one of them injected a fatal dose, on Thursday became the seventh person to plead guilty in a federal heroin conspiracy case.
Landon Cope, 22, pleaded guilty in the Little Rock courtroom of U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. to a newly filed charge of conspiring to distribute, and to possess with the intent to distribute, heroin. The offense is punishable by at least five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, when he is sentenced at a later date.
In return for Cope's guilty plea, Marshall agreed to a prosecutor's request to dismiss two more-serious charges that were pending against Cope: conspiring to distribute, and to possess with the intent to distribute, heroin, resulting in death, and distribution of heroin resulting in death.
Cope, represented by attorney Lee Short, said in response to the judge's questions that he is aware that the new charge carries a probable "very stout" sentence because the heroin he obtained to share with 19-year-old Jared Maxwell led to Maxwell's death the next morning.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gordon told the judge that about 8:40 p.m. Oct. 27, 2011, the Cabot Police Department received a call from the Sonic about a man who was "unresponsive."
He said Cope was seen inside a car parked at the drive-in restaurant, shaking Maxwell, who was also in the car. He said that when police arrived, Cope and a third man, who had been in the car's back seat, both had slurred speech, and officers found syringes in a nearby trash can.
Maxwell was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead the next morning from a condition caused by cocaine and heroin use, Gordon said. Gordon noted that a medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Maxwell said it was his opinion that "but for the ingestion of heroin, he would not have died."
Maxwell's cellphone, found in the car, also provided the police with answers.
Gordon said that a video on the phone, taken moments before Maxwell's fatal overdose, showed him in the driver's seat, Cope in the front passenger seat and the third man in the back seat. Cope held an inverted soft drink can, and the third man was seen adding water to a substance on the can while the three men discussed who was going to inject whom, Gordon said. A Drug Enforcement Administration agent testified in an earlier hearing that heroin is often heated using the concave bottom of a soft-drink can, and the liquid is then extracted by a needle.
Gordon said officers also found evidence that 17 cellphone calls were exchanged that evening between Cope and Wallando Onezine, a Cabot man who authorities say conveyed the heroin to Cabot from Memphis.
Cope agreed Thursday that he had obtained the heroin mixture from Onezine that day "for all of us to use it." He said he had gone to Onezine's house, and Onezine stepped outside to sell the drug, which another person had paid for.
Onezine, 37, was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison, to be followed by 10 years of probation, during which he must perform 1,000 hours of community service work educating at-risk youth in the Cabot area about the dangers of heroin.
An indictment filed two years ago identified Onezine as the main heroin distributor in the Cabot area from May 1, 2011, through June 26, 2012. It named seven other men as defendants in a heroin distribution conspiracy that resulted in nine overdoses, two of them fatal, among young people in the Cabot area during that time.
All of the defendants have pleaded guilty so far except for Devon McClain, 20, of Cabot, who is Onezine's stepson and remains scheduled for trial this fall.
Metro on 08/01/2014
Print Headline: LR man admits heroin dealings