July 12, 2016
Released by: Major Jason Wank, Chief Detective
On 07/11/2016 a Carteret County Grand Jury indicted Michael John Becker, 51, and April Thomas Guthrie, 33 both of 702 Courtyard West, Newport on murder charges for the 2014 overdose death of Kendal Walbert that occurred at 200 Lydia Drive in Newport.
Detective Sgt. James Pittman, lead detective on the case, said Walbert, age 23 at the time, died on August 16, 2014, after using heroin sold to him by Guthrie and Becker. Drug detectives and the SBI worked hard on this case in the processing of not only drug evidence but gathering additional electronic evidence from the drug transactions.
District Attorney Scott Thomas said, “Sheriff Buck and I remain committed to fighting illegal drug activity and the deadly consequences that follow the illegal drug activity. We will continue to evaluate the evidence in each case involving the sale and distribution of illegal drugs and charge for the criminal conduct involved. It is imperative that individuals who engage in the sale of drugs understand they will be held accountable for their acts. We are trying to address the drug problem in Carteret County by focusing on education, prevention, intervention, treatment and enforcement.”
Sheriff Buck added, “I commend the investigators and the District Attorney’s Office for working to bring forth a prosecutable case and hold these two drug dealers responsible for their actions which contributed to death of a young man in our County. Drug dealers prey upon people with addictions so they can make money or feed their own addictions. The drug problem is one of the main factors in most of our crime and accidental death in our society and we must continue to battle it every day. I hope this arrest and prosecution sends a message that where the evidence is available drug dealers will be held accountable for their actions when their poison causes someone’s death. ”
Becker and Guthrie have been charged with one count each of second degree murder with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, sell & deliver heroin, and conspiracy to sell and deliver heroin. 2
Guthrie is currently incarcerated in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections women’s prison in Raleigh serving a six-year sentence for the sale and delivery of narcotics. Her first appearance is scheduled for Monday, July 18th. Becker was arrested on 07/11/2016 and was placed on a $225,000 secured bond. His first appearance is scheduled for today.