Shannon Lee Maxwell was sentenced on Thursday to serve 4 years in prison for providing a fatal dose of drugs to Coleman Chambless, who died from a drug overdose on March 18, 2021, in Shelbyville. …
Shannon Lee Maxwell was sentenced on Thursday to serve 4 years in prison for providing a fatal dose of drugs to Coleman Chambless, who died from a drug overdose on March 18, 2021, in Shelbyville. Chambless was 27 years old when he died.
Maxwell was originally charged with 2nd Degree Murder, killing of another by the distribution of fentanyl. (Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.) 2nd Degree Murder is a Class A felony with a sentencing range of 15 to 25 years in prison. In a deal with prosecutors, Maxwell agreed to plead guilty to Reckless Homicide, a Class D felony, which carries a sentence range of two to four years.
Maxwell’s plea was what is called a “best interest plea.” In a “best interest plea,” the defendant does not admit to committing the crime but in recognition of the possible outcome if he was found guilty in a jury trial agrees to accept a deal with prosecutors. The effect of a best interest plea is the same as a guilty plea, lacking only the admission of guilt. Judge Forest Alexander Durard, Jr. described Maxwell’s sentence as “a considerable break” from what he may have faced if he was found guilty at trial.
The night Coleman Chambless died
On March 17, 2021, Maxwell went to Nashville and purchased what he believed to be heroin, according to Assistant DA Mike Randles. That night he shared the drug with others, including Chambless. The next day, Maxwell again was out distributing the drug to various people, again including Chambless.
At the home of Kenny and Nicole Hurt, in the 600 block of Deery Street, in Shelbyville, while several people were snorting the drug through a plastic straw, Chambless became unconscious and vomited. Maxwell later told investigators that the Hurts did not want police coming to their house and refused to allow anyone to call for help for Chambless. Maxwell loaded Chambless in a pickup truck and drove to the nearby Walgreen drug store parking lot where he pulled Coleman’s body out of the pickup and called for an ambulance.
A passerby commenced CPR on Chambless and police continued it when they arrived. When paramedics arrived they administered two doses of NARCAN ( a drug that can save a person who’s overdosed on opiates) but Chambless never regained consciousness.
The subsequent autopsy determined that Chambless had ingested large amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl either of which could have been fatal. The state’s theory, Randles said, is the drug Maxwell purchased, which he thought was heroin, was methamphetamine laced with fentanyl.
Right after Thanksgiving 2020, four months before he died, Chambless was jailed on a warrant for failure to appear in court. He was sentenced to be incarcerated until May but he was released early for good behavior and for his successful participation in a work program.
Coleman was released from jail on March 12. Six days later he died of a drug overdose.
Seventeen years before Coleman’s death, March 4, 2004, his father had died of a drug overdose. His addiction had been to prescription opioid painkillers, prescribed by doctors after being bit by a rattlesnake and, subsequently, a surgery from an injury he suffered at work.
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