Authorities in Burlington County say a man from Camden, who is a drug dealer, will likely spend nearly a decade behind bars in connection to the death of one of his customers in 2019.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina says 23-year-old Marquese Smith pleaded guilty May 13th to one count of first-degree strict liability for drug-induced death.

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Under a plea agreement, Smith faces eight years in prison when he is sentenced on August 12th. He will not become eligible for parole until 85 percent of his term has been served.

According to Coffina's office,

The investigation began in June 2019 when officers from the Maple Shade Police Department responded to the Ryan Run West Apartment Complex and discovered the body of 33-year-old Kristi Ventura, who had fatally overdosed. The Burlington County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the cause of death was cocaine and fentanyl toxicity. The investigation determined that the drugs used by the victim had been purchased from Smith, who has been lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly since his arrest in October 2019.

Since 2017, there have been 26 defendants charged in Burlington County with strict liability for drug-induced death. Eleven have been convicted or pled guilty and another three have been indicted. The remaining cases are pending presentation to a grand jury, according to a press release.

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