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Charge dismissed against Paige Holmes after overdose death

A motion has been filed in U.S. District Court to dismiss federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and intent to distribute fentanyl against Paige Rebekah Holmes, 25, of Minot, because she has died. Holmes died in her home last week of an accidental drug overdose, according to an obituary published in The Minot Daily News on Tuesday.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin, is sometimes mixed with heroin and in some cases even drug dealers may not realize that they have distributed a fentanyl compound instead of a less potent drug. Minot police have said fentanyl is a factor in many overdoses and overdose deaths in the area in the past few years. Overdoses in Minot have dramatically increased.

Two of Holmes’ co-defendants in the federal case, Tyree Dominique Melhouse, 29, and Terez Malik Melhouse, 23, both of Detroit, Mich., were indicted by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin-fentanyl compounds between about 2015 and April 2020 in North Dakota and elsewhere. Terez Melhouse was also indicted on a charge of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl. Both have signed plea agreements with the prosecution.

A change of plea hearing for Terez Melhouse, who has agreed to plead guilty to possession with intent to deliver more than 70 grams of fentanyl in Minot in August 2020, is now scheduled for Oct. 12 in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, with a sentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 18, 2022. In return for his guilty plea, the prosecution will recommend a sentence on the low end of sentencing guidelines, which might mean about three to four years in prison, followed by four years of supervised probation. Terez Melhouse was originally charged in district court in Minot. According to court documents in the state case, the Ward County Narcotics Task Force obtained a search warrant for a northwest Minot residence on Aug. 14, 2020, and forced entry after Terez Melhouse asked who was there and peered out the window. At that point Terez Melhouse ran to the bathroom and flushed a bag of fentanyl down the toilet. Terez Melhouse were arrested. When Terez Melhouse was searched, police found $5,048 in the pockets of his jeans. Police also found assorted drug paraphernalia.

According to court documents in the federal case, Tyree Melhouse has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in the Minot area between 2015 and 2020. Tyree Melhouse will admit that he used numerous people in Minot to distribute the narcotics, including Taylor Burckhard. Melhouse sold fentanyl to Burckhard, who in turn sold the fentanyl to a person who overdosed and was hospitalized in the intensive care unit for multiple days after taking the fentanyl sold by Burckhard. Melhouse will admit to having distributed more than 100 grams of heroin in the Minot area.

The prosecution will recommend six years in prison for Tyree Melhouse, followed by three years of supervised probation. The maximum sentence for the charge would be 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised probation. A change of plea and sentencing hearing for Tyree Melhouse is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2022, in Bismarck.

Burckhard, 27, of Minot, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring with other individuals to distribute 100 grams of heroin and fentanyl in the Minot area and providing fentanyl to the person who overdosed and had to be hospitalized in the ICU. The prosecution has agreed to recommend a sentence at the low end of the sentencing guidelines, which could range from 6 ½ years to eight years, followed by three years of supervised probation for Burckhard. A sentencing hearing for Burckhard is scheduled for Nov. 2 in U.S. District Court in Bismarck.

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