Overdose victim pleads guilty in court

By Ashley Bunton - abunton@civitasmedia.com

The victim of an overdose who survived after being revived with Narcan plead guilty in court Tuesday to a charge of possession of heroin.

Michael D. Wheeler, of Washington Court House, appeared in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas with his attorney, Thomas J.C. Arrington. John Scott, assistant Fayette County prosecutor, represented the state of Ohio. Steven Beathard presided over the matter as the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Judge.

Wheeler, 32, recounted the incident in court after Beathard asked him questions about the case.

Two days after he was released from prison for serving time on a drug possession conviction, Wheeler overdosed Sept. 22, 2016. He told the court it was his first time experiencing an overdose and Beathard asked him, “What was your reaction to that since it was the first time it had happened?”

Wheeler recounted the overdose experience.

“When I woke up, I seen all the blue around me, I got my vision together, it was the cops and EMTs. My buddy, he was next to me laying on the floor overdosing too, and they were still working on him. I was worried about him. The overall affect of it is, it really scared me. I could be gone, I wouldn’t be seeing my family no more. It really taught me a lot: that’s why I asked my counselor for counseling and asked if there was anyway to be signed up for the the Vivitrol program…I’m trying to do everything I can to move on,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler told the court he had signed up for a sober living housing program in Chillicothe. At the time he suffered the overdose, Wheeler was still on post-release control from his prior prison stint. The state is currently recommending a prison sentence for Wheeler, Scott said, but Beathard said prison isn’t a mandatory sentence in Wheeler’s case.

Vivitrol is an injection that contains medication to block the effects that opioids and heroin have on the brain’s receptor cells that, without Vivitrol, would otherwise continue to produce receptors for the drugs, which leads to craving and furthers addiction as the receptors need to be filled.

It was stated on the record that Wheeler recently failed a drug test for Suboxone opioids, but Wheeler said that he is working with his parole officer to get counseling, sober living housing and the Vivitrol program.

“I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to do. It’s not a mandatory sentencing,” said Beathard, who added that the maximum penitentiary sentence that Wheeler can receive is one year in prison plus his remaining post-release control time.

“The Suboxone doesn’t help you today. You’re your own worst enemy,” said Beathard.

Wheeler is scheduled for sentencing at 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 20.


By Ashley Bunton


Reach Ashley at 740-335-3611 or on Twitter @ashbunton

Reach Ashley at 740-335-3611 or on Twitter @ashbunton