A Manteo man with a history of selling illegal drugs has become the first person in the northeastern North Carolina region convicted on murder charges for his involvement in the overdose death of a woman three years ago.
Gregory Wynn, 43, pleaded guilty Monday in Dare County Superior Court of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to a prison term of 21 to 26 years.
Wynn had knowingly laced heroin with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller 100 times stronger than morphine, said District Attorney Andrew Womble.
Wynn pleaded guilty in an effort to get a shorter sentence. Wynn could have received a life sentence if convicted by a jury, Womble said. Typically, in such cases drug dealers would be charged with possessing and selling drugs and get about five years.
The guilty plea for murder, which counts as a conviction, is a major victory for law enforcement, Womble said.
“Greg Wynn sold drugs and killed somebody, and he’s going to be off the streets for a long time,” Womble said.
Wanda Montague, a 47-year-old Wanchese woman, bought heroin from Wynn three years ago in the parking lot of drug store in Manteo. She was later found dead in a home from an overdose. Wynn, with a history of illegal drug convictions, was soon charged.
Wynn’s case and others led Womble to seek murder charges in cases where a drug dealer knowingly laces heroin with fentanyl. Evidence can come from such sources as witnesses or even a text message. The phrase “it’s hot” typically appears in text messages describing a drug for sale with fentanyl, Womble said.
This is the first conviction of its kind in the state’s first judicial district and one of the first in the state, Womble said.
In Wynn’s case, he had told those who bought the drug that it contained fentanyl, he said. In many cases, drug addicts knowingly use heroin laced with fentanyl because it produces a greater high, Womble said.
Opioid overdose deaths in North Carolina reached 1,953 in 2017, according to a report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Two thirds of those involved synthetic opioids with the most prevalent being fentanyl, the report said. The number of deaths from fentanyl and similar synthetic opiods was more than 10 times higher in 2017 than it was 2013, showing the rapid rise in the problem.
The 2017 rate of 19.8 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in North Carolina surpassed the national rate of 14.6.
Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272, firstname.lastname@example.org