Former prostitute takes plea deal in Calcasieu’s first fentanyl murder case

The first fentanyl murder case to be prosecuted by the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office ended in a plea agreement Friday morning in 14th Judicial District Court after three days of jury selection.

Zoey Bumgarden, originally charged with second-degree murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and drug distribution for her part in the 2020 overdose death of Sean Khoury in a Sulphur hotel room.

Bumgarden was sentenced to five and half years for the manslaughter charge and 10 years for the drug distribution charge. All of the charges have been suspended and Bumgarden is being given credit for the three years and two months she has been behind bars since Khoury’s death. When she is released from the Department of Corrections, she will serve three years of supervised release and 200 hours of community service.

Prosecutor Lea Hall said Bumgarden was a prostitute who met Khoury at the hotel, had sex with him and then sold him two Roxicodone pills that were laced with fentanyl, acetaminophen and lidocaine among other drugs.

The room was registered to Bumgarden, who was in a different room with a male juvenile when Sulphur Police officers arrived at the hotel.

Hall said Bumgarden had planned to rob Khoury of his firearm after he had taken the drugs.

Bumgarden was arrested on charges of second-degree murder; theft of a firearm; possession of CDS in the presence of a firearm; possession with intent to distribute CDS II; simple possession of CDS I and IV; possession of drug paraphernalia; illegal use of a CDS in the presence of someone under the age of 17;  theft less than $1,000; solicitation for prostitution; and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. The juvenile was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder and possession of CDS II, according to American Press archives.

“Even though this death was unintentional, it did arise from her actions,” Hall said.

Judge David Ritchie, who told Bumgarden during her sentencing that he had previously served 17 years in drug court, said he hoped she has “learned something” during her time behind bars.

“When you sell drugs, there’s always the possibility that something can happen,” Ritchie said. “I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people out there who are benefiting after creating lives of misery for others. Even though you didn’t intend for it to happen, even though you sold him something that had fentanyl in it unwittingly, it happened.”

Bumgarden, who was 18 at the time of her arrest and is 21 now, has no prior criminal convictions, defense attorney Todd Clemons said.

“I have a very young client who made some poor choices,” Clemons said. “We don’t feel she willingly killed anybody and we were willing to advocate that until the end.”

Clemons said he is hopeful Bumgarden, who is from West Monroe, will be released from custody by the end of the summer or early fall.

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