Man Sentenced to State Prison for Manslaughter and Other Charges Stemming from Friend’s Heroin Overdose Death
District Attorney Sam Sutter today announced that 51-year-old Christopher Anderson was sentenced to serve up to six years in state prison after pleading guilty to a number of charges related to the February 2011 heroin overdose death of his former girlfriend, Venus Chumack.
On Friday, Mr. Anderson of 80 Foxborough St., New Bedford, pleaded guilty to indictments charging him with manslaughter, reckless endangerment of a child, larceny from a building and distribution of class A and B drugs. Superior Court judge Rene Dupuis today sentenced Mr. Anderson to serve four-and-a-half to six years in state prison.
On the evening of February 12, 2011, Ms. Chumack, 46, was caring for her 2-year-old granddaughter in her apartment at 927 Pine St., Fall River. At some point during the evening, while the child was asleep in bed, Mr. Anderson visited the apartment after being invited over by Ms. Chumack.
When the defendant arrived at the Victim’s house, he brought crack cocaine and heroin with him. The defendant and the victim shared the crack cocaine. The defendant then provided the victim with a bag of heroin which she injected. A short time later, the defendant gave the victim another bag of heroin which she also injected. Shortly after injecting the second bag of heroin, the victim began to experience a drug overdose. She became unconscious and had trouble breathing. The Defendant dragged the victim into the bathroom and splashed water on her face in an attempt to wake her. After spending some amount of time with the victim in the bathroom, the victim’s medical condition began to worsen. The defendant left the victim on the floor of her bathroom gasping for breath and making a gurgling sound.
Before leaving the apartment, the defendant stole several items from the victim’s apartment including a lap top computer, an engagement ring, some cash, and other personal effects. The defendant put all of the drug paraphernalia in a box and hid the box under a living room chair. While all of this was going on, the young girl was sleeping in the victim’s bedroom. The defendant was aware the girl was present in the apartment as further investigation revealed Anderson and Chumack exchanged text messages prior to the defendant’s arrival in which both he and the victim discussed the child being in the apartment. Further, the room where the Defendant stole an engagement ring was the same room in which the child was sleeping. After collecting all of the items that he intended to steal, the defendant left the victim’s apartment and did not lock any of the doors. In doing so, he left the child alone in the apartment with the Victim dead in the bathroom.
On the morning of February 13, 2011, the victim’s sister who also lived in the apartment building came to the victim’s apartment to see if she wanted coffee. When the sister arrived at the victim’ apartment, the sister noticed the door was unlocked and entered the apartment. Upon entering the apartment, the sister found the young girl sitting on the couch asking for milk. When asked “where is grandma?” the child replied, “bathroom.” There, the victim’s sister located the victim, who had been deceased for a number of hours. The sister immediately called 911 and an investigation into the death ensued.
The investigation was conducted by Fall River Police Det. Kelly Furtado and Massachusetts State Police Trooper Chris Dumont, who is assigned to the Bristol County District Attorney’s office. During the course of the probe, they discovered the victim’s cellphone and read the text messages between the victim and the defendant. Investigators also located a homemade ring underneath the victim’s body in the bathroom. The ring was identified as belonging to the defendant. The police also learned that possessions of the victim were missing. With this information, the police began to focus on the Defendant as a person of interest.
On February 14, 2011, investigators located the defendant at this mother’s house. There, the police spoke with the defendant who admitted being with the victim on the night of her death, and confirmed a number of details about the case investigators had already determined to be facts.
The police subsequently executed search warrants and recovered the victim’s stolen property from the defendant’s apartment.
The Manslaughter charge in this case was prosecuted under two theories – 1) That providing heroin to a person is inherently dangerous and reckless and that the victim’s overdose and death was a foreseeable consequence of the reckless behavior of distributing heroin, and 2) that the defendant, after giving the victim heroin and after being aware of her overdose as a result of her consumption of the heroin provided by the defendant, formed a duty for the defendant to care for the victim and that his failure to seek medical attention for the victim was a reckless act that caused the victim’s death.
The case was set for trial on Monday, July 14. On Friday afternoon, the defendant decided to plead guilty to all charges.
During this morning’s sentencing hearing, Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer St. Laurent Sowa and Garrett Fregault argued for a five to seven year state prison sentence, while the defense recommended a three to five year prison sentence.
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