In the eyes of the law, Michael G. McIntyre has been involved in drugs since 2009, when he was 23 and was arrested on pot possession. He wasn’t prosecuted. Three years later he was prosecuted on a felony possession of methadone–the heroin substitute for recovering addicts–without a prescription. He went through a pre-trial intervention program, completed it, and the charges were dropped. He was again arrested on fentanyl possession with intent to sell in 2020. On Monday, in connection with those sales, a grand jury indicted him on first-degree murder in the Aug. 11, 2020 death of 33-year-old Chelsea Lenore Price.
McIntyre is charged with a capital felony, potentially exposing him to the death penalty, though no drug dealer charged with murder in Florida since the law changed, enabling that charge, has faced the death penalty. In Flagler, Joseph Colon, the first individual locally to face a first-degree murder charge after selling the heroin that killed a Palm Coast resident, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison last year.
Several other people have since been indicted on similar charges. On Monday, Allyson Dawn Bennett, 39, formerly of Belleaire Drive in Palm Coast, was scheduled to be sentenced after pleading to manslaughter in the death by overdose of Michael Joseph Burnett Jr., 33, in June 2018, from fentanyl. Bennett pleaded to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and was to face from five to 15 years in prison. The sentencing, however, was rescheduled to next February. Bennett remains at the Flagler County jail. (See: “Flagler Grand Jury Issues 4 Indictments for Murder, 2 More in Drug Deaths, 2 in Killing of Deon O’Neal Jenkins.”)
Florida passed the law enabling prosecution of drug dealers on murder charges in 2019. It has been controversial in public debate and advocacy circles, and in some cases such charges have been dropped. But the approach has been frequently used in Florida and in federal prosecutions.
McIntyre has been at the jail since Aug. 11, when he was booked on a charge of trafficking methamphetamines. An undercover operation led to that arrest after McIntyre sold the drug to an undercover agent. That charge alone is a first degree felony with a maximum prison term of 30 years. The State Attorney’s office filed the charge on Sept. 9. He was served the indictment on the murder charge dating back to the August 2020 incident at the jail.
That night Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies had arrested McIntyre, 34 at the time, on felony charges of selling a controlled substance and illegally using a two-way communication device–McIntyre’s cell phone. Detectives had obtained a phone from a “source”–apparently, Price–that contained Facebook messages from McIntyre. “The content of the communication was consistent with drug sales between the defendant and the source, with the defendant being the supplier of fentanyl/heroin and the source being the buyer,” his arrest report states. McIntyre was arrested subsequent to what had been staged as an undercover buy. McIntyre himself identified the bag he had with him as fentanyl, according to his arrest report.
He told deputies that he had added Benadryl to the fentanyl “to not only increase his profits, but also to prevent the source from dying once the substance was ingested,” according to his arrest report. He told deputies he’d used fentanyl himself in the past and had “died” from it, but was brought back with three dosses of narcan, the neutralizing agent that helps restore breathing.
Price was not that fortunate. Earlier that evening, deputies were dispatched to 29 Edmond Place in Palm Coast in response to an overdose. Price’s stepfather had called 911 after finding her unresponsive. A paramedic pronounced her deceased. There were no illegal drugs at the scene, just prescription drugs, though Price had struggled with addiction previously. But her death was later attributed to a fentanyl overdose. The drug was allegedly tied to a sale from McIntyre.
“I want to thank the Grand Jury, the prosecutor, and all the detectives for their excellent work in obtaining this indictment,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a release issued this morning. “The poison sold to the victim by McIntyre wound up taking her life and the result was tragic. Let this be a reminder to drug dealers to keep your poison out of Flagler County and know that we investigate every overdose death as a murder.”
McIntyre, whose jail booking lists his address as 12 Brian Lane in Palm Coast, is being held on no bond. A public defender was appointed to represent him.