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Matthew Eyster (Photo: Cindy Patane)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A mother’s quest for justice is over. The woman who sold her son drugs that led to his fatal overdose pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Wednesday.

Cindy Patane lost her son Matthew Eyster in April 2016 to a drug overdose.

Since then all she has wanted was the woman who sold him the pill that killed him to be held accountable.

“I’m glad that Matthew’s death wasn’t in vain and that there is a purpose behind his death,” Patane said.

It’s a purpose she hopes other drug dealers will notice after this case.

“That’s my whole purpose, nothing is going to bring my Matthew back so going in and fight just you know to hold her accountable for no reason at all is not my purpose my purpose is to make a statement so other dealers realize its time society understand addicts are people too,” Patane said.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Smith says convicting Melinda Chaulk is the first step in doing that.

“A lot of people look at addiction as the addict is responsible for everything he does and we don’t hold necessarily the drug dealers accountable for the deaths of the addict and we’re starting to see that we need to,” Smith said.

Chaulk received 2 sentences for involuntary manslaughter. She will serve at least a year and a half in prison for the drug charge and will serve at least 14 months.

“I’m okay with it because to me it was never really been about what the exact charge was or how much time she spent in jail to me, it’s been about accountability for her actions,” Patane said.

When Patane read her letter to Chaulk in court she says it took a lot of strength, but she wanted Chaulk to know the Matthew she loved.

“I wanted her to know who Matt really was as a person and that he was more than just an addict that she made 17 dollars off of,” Patane said.

Patane says what has happened to Matthew is making a difference for others now.


Comment on this Story

  • Brian Alercia

    Sorry for the family’s loss and no disrespect meant, but this is a slippery slope. Where does negligence start? Where does it end? Should the prescribing doctor not be responsible for not counting the original patients pills more often? Or the actual manufacturer of the pill for continually marketing deadly pills and paying doctors to prescribe them? What about the bartender who sold a guy his fourth drink and led to a deadly accident? Again, no disrespect meant, more just bringing to light a fundamental differing of perspective. And yes, I have been in this situation personally. Anyway, it said start the discussion…
    And what’s with the story? Originally wway reported this as a heroin death. Now this version is a single pill. The $17 would suggest a pill, but seems some fact checking is in order reporters.

    • John

      It seems very clear to me. She is guilty as sin

      North Carolina General Statutes § 14-18

      Elements of the Crime

      A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter if he or she:

      (1) kills

      (2) another living human being

      (3) by an unlawful act that does not amount to a felony and is not ordinarily dangerous to life, or by a culpably negligent act or omission.

    • band momma

      Bartenders are held responsible if they serve someone who leaves the bar and then gets in an accident causing death. So why shouldn’t someone who’s selling prescription drugs illegally also be held accountable.

    • Christa Hamilton

      Matt Eyster is my nephew. We originally thought when he passed away it was Heroin and that’s when this story first aired. It took months for us to get the toxicology report back that said it was the Opana pill that was $17. The reporter had her facts straight.

    • Bryan Leonard

      Sorry for whatever situation you personally endured, but yes their needs to be accountability for these types of situations. A black-market seller that pushes opioids is only after money, not the recipients well being like a doctor or physician is, and both parties know that that the possible outcome is overdose and death. As for doctors, the precedent has already been set years ago in other cases across the country where doctors are indicted on Malpractice and manslaughter for over-prescribing patients drugs that cause overdose and death, as it should be. Doctors and Physicians have much more knowledge and education of how to administer and prescribe high pain relieving drugs to prevent overdose and addiction, but when those cases do arise, the Dr.s have been held accountable. Same rules should go for anyone else. As far as bartenders go, that is a grey area but logic can still work that one out. A bartender shouldn’t be held liable for giving someone enough drinks to make them drunk and then they get involved in a deadly accident. Reason being, the driver’s decision to get in a vehicle and drive, knowing that they probably shouldn’t be, all responsibility is on the driver of the vehicle at that point. Especially now days with cell phones you can call someone or a taxi, or uber, lyft, etc… Plus a bartender doesn’t have a way to know if that person has had other drinks at another bar, especially in downtown scenarios where bars are lined up down the block and people hop from one to the other. However, if a little hideaway bar employee see’s a customer leave and try to drive while inebriated, as a human being they should at least feel obligated to contact someone that can give them a ride, or call the police and report the vehicle has a drunk driver and give the license plate number immediately.

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