Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 21, 2022, Michele Baker, 39, of Pleasantville, was charged with Strict Liability Drug Induced Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9a, in connection with the death of a 44 year-old male in South Toms River on April 19, 2022. Baker has also been charged with Distribution of Heroin/Fentanyl in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1); Possession of Heroin/Fentanyl with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3) and Possession of Heroin/Fentanyl in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1).
On April 19, 2022, South Toms River Police Officers responded to a residence on South Main Street for a report of an unresponsive male. Upon arrival, Officers discovered the body of the victim, who was already deceased from an apparent drug overdose.
An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force and South Toms River Police Department Detective Bureau determined that Baker had sold Heroin and Fentanyl to the victim on April 18, 2022. Further investigation and toxicology analysis recently received by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the presence of Heroin and Fentanyl in the victim’s system. Based upon the toxicology analysis, the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office opined that the Heroin and Fentanyl found in the victim’s system was the cause of his death. As a consequence, a warrant was issued for Baker’s arrest on June 21, 2022.
On June 26, 2022, Baker was arrested by Officers from the Howell Township Police Department on an unrelated Shoplifting charge. Baker was transported and lodged in the Monmouth County Jail. On July 4, 2022, Baker was transported to the Ocean County Jail where she is currently lodged pending a detention hearing.
Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, South Toms River Police Department, South Toms River Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Pleasantville Police Department, Howell Township Police Department and Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.