To hear his friends say it, Gavin Remaley had the craziest laugh in the room, he cooked the tastiest chicken he had ever eaten and spent so much time lifting weights that some people did not had never seen wearing sleeves.
He was also an addict, a burden he took away while a high school student at Leesville Road High School and had spent half of his life. On his Facebook page, he described a daily struggle to stay clean while his friends around him were overdosing – a process complicated by anxiety and panic attacks.
According to friends, this anxiety intensified after the death of Remaley's roommate Matthew Dillingham in Asheville in 2017 following an opioid overdose after using drugs.
Buncombe County General Counsel, Todd Williams, has filed a complaint for second-degree murder against the Raleigh native, a tactic increasingly common among prosecutors. During his re-election campaign, ABC 13 WLOS said: "We must spread the word to those who provide these deadly substances to our community."
But Remaley had his own message to broadcast.
"Drug addicts are not bad guys," he writes. "I would like to be able to wake up and say," I do not want to take drugs, so I will not do it, "and that would be all, but I can not, it's not a reality. I have tried and I have failed for years to stop myself, and the only way for me to do that is to enrich my life by helping another addict, by sharing what I'm doing. I have lived and working on my inner problems with others, like people in mind.
On November 2, while he was waiting to be tried in a Hillsborough family home, Remaley died at the age of 30, as a result of an overdose. He left his parents, his long-time girlfriend, Nikki Rogers, and a little dog, Charlie, who rarely got out of his lap.
At her memorial service in Durham, friends talked about her salmon cakes rather than her arrest for heroin possession in 2012, her gym routine more than her demons. He was, it was said, the kind of friend who answered your call from the first ring.
The murder charge was pending on the service, unspoken but close to the minds of many minds. For family and friends, Remaley and drug addicts like him need an intensified treatment rather than a more severe punishment. Remaley, they said, did not stock drugs or money, and it did not work for profit.
"It's a retribution, not a solution," said Drew Remaley, Gavin's father, in an email sent to the N & O in November. "Going point-blank to feel better does not solve anything."
The attorney general in Asheville, Williams, did not call back his office.
But an escalating opioid crisis serves as a backdrop to the decision to convict Remaley of murder.
Between 2000 and 2016, the number of heroin-related deaths nationwide increased from 47 to 573, an increase of more than 1,000%, according to the office of the forensic pathologist. 39; State.
Deaths caused by fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is both cheaper and more potent, increased from 118 to 390 during this period, and the total is higher when taken into account. chemically similar drugs.
In Wake County, in the register of deeds, Charles Gilliam compiled a spreadsheet of all drug overdoses between July 4, 2013 and June of this year. He is careful to note that much of the 2018 data is incomplete, but the vast majority concerns one or more opioids.
In addition, about 80% of these deaths involve white victims, fueling widespread criticism that opioid overdoses hold the attention of prosecutors and media across the country as they affect populations. non-minority.
On his website, Williams published a League of Women Voters questionnaire, in which he advocated a "global" approach to the crisis, making treatment and rehabilitation a priority, while blaming opioid traffickers. second degree murder in case of overdose deter and punish. "
The murder charge in the Remaley case was announced in August 2017, and in a matter of hours a heated debate broke out on the Facebook page of the Asheville Police Department.
The Remaley victim's mother, Sandra Dillingham, joined her through multiple positions, describing her son's roommate as a reseller and declaring himself "delighted" with the murder charge.
His son Matthew had two children and worked for the postal service, according to his obituary. When chatting on Facebook, his mother said that he was never an addict and that he had been opioid through a doctor. When he started having migraines, she wrote, "This man gave him something illegal."
One of Remaley's friends replied that she had seen Dillingham shoot a heroin bullet in front of her.
"I'm so sorry for your loss," Hannah Selverne wrote to Dillingham's mother. "I can not imagine the pain in which you must be. But your statement is simply wrong. Accuse Gavin and ruin his life and that of those who love him is not justice. "
Ten days before his death, Remaley wrote, "My anxiety was such that I have not slept well in a long time. I do not think I could do it without Charlie, it's the only thing that keeps me going. "
After his death, Remaley's dog attended his service at the Old Murphey School in Durham, waiting on a leash while the speakers took the microphone to pay tribute.
The first of them, Robert Roskind, said that he had grown up in the 1960s and that he had no experience of overdose funerals. But his 31-year-old daughter buried five friends.
"Gavin's fight did not define him," said his father, Drew. "It was part of his life. It's not who he was.
Working hard to talk, he urged people to remember his child as a sunny day – bright, warm, and brief.