A Camden man who handed his friend the syringe of fentanyl that led to their overdose death in 2020 has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison.
Sean Michael Taylor, 27, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court, South Carolina, to 220 months in federal prison followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision after pleading guilty to one count of distributing fentanyl.
U.S. District Judge Sherri Lydon presided over Taylor’s case. People sent to federal prison generally are not eligible for parole, according to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.
On July 21, 2020, Taylor told a customer who was purchasing fentanyl that he had provided the drugs that had led to an overdose death in Camden, on July 1, 2020, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina.
The customer was a confidential source who was purchasing the drugs at the direction of federal agents and officers assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration Atlanta-Carolinas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program Task Force in Columbia.
Following his arrest, Taylor admitted that he distributed the fentanyl that caused his friend’s death a few weeks prior and identified the victim by name, according to the statement.
Taylor later told law enforcement he had first injected himself with a syringe containing fentanyl and then handed the syringe to his friend, who then injected what remained. The victim immediately collapsed to the floor, unresponsive, Taylor told law enforcement.
Along with others present at the residence, Taylor dragged the victim to another room. No one could rouse the victim, according to the statement, and Taylor left the residence without calling 911.
The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office and other first responders from the Kershaw County Emergency Medical Services and Coroner’s Office ultimately responded to the scene, where the victim was pronounced dead. The cause of death later was ruled to be fentanyl overdose.
Fentanyl has driven the increase in overdose deaths in South Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control. From 2020 to 2021, the department has said overdose deaths involving fentanyl escalated more than 35%, from 1,100 to 1,494 deaths.
In 2021, fentanyl was involved in more than two-thirds of all overdose deaths involving opioids in South Carolina.
As a condition of his sentence, Judge Lydon recommended that the federal Bureau of Prisons evaluate Taylor for participation in drug treatment programs.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Bales prosecuted the case. Taylor was represented by Mark Campbell McLawhorn, a federal public defender.
The Columbia-based drug task force includes agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Postal Inspection Service, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, and Department of Public Safety for the City of Orangeburg.