Wise found guilty, sentenced for drug-related deaths

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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A Dare County jury convicted Tyrique Lazara Wise, 38, on the afternoon of March 8, 2024 of two counts of aggravated death by distribution in the September 13, 2021 deaths of Rachel Cockerham and George Bowman Jr.; two counts of sale of cocaine; and one count of possession with the intent to sell or deliver cocaine, according to a news release from District Attorney Jeffrey Cruden, First Prosecutorial District. The trial was presided over by Resident Superior Court Judge R. Andrew Womble. The prosecution team was comprised of assistant district attorneys Jennifer Karpowicz Bland and Amber Younce and legal assistants Olivia Hines and Hannah Gilroy.

According to the release, the death by distribution cases were “aggravated” because the defendant had previously been convicted of both sale of controlled substance and involuntary manslaughter in another drug-related death.

Wise was sentenced by Womble to consecutive 207 to 261 month active sentences on the aggravated death by distribution cases and 17-30 months on the sale of cocaine and possession with the intent to sell or deliver, which is to run at the expiration of the two aggravated death by distribution cases.

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According to the release, on September 13, 2021, law enforcement was dispatched to a home in Manteo where they discovered that Cockerham and Bowman had died after ingesting cocaine they had purchased the night before from Wise. Another woman was also in attendance and ingested cocaine, but while unconscious for an extended period, she survived, stated the release.

“Investigators with the Dare County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force began an investigation into the events and very quickly identified the defendant as the source of the drugs,” the release continued. “Theautopsies of the deceased ruled that the deaths were are result of a ‘multi-drug toxicity of fentanyl, cocaine and ethanol.’”

Cruden stated “the recent arrests by the Dare County Sheriff’s Office of persons suspected of drug activity, and the convictions and sentencing of Mr. Wise we hope sends a clear message to the drug dealers in this area. If you continue to sell your poison, we are coming after you. As we have all seen too many times, drugs ruins lives, torments families, ends careers, and in tragic circumstances like we have here, ends lives.”