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Couple plead in OD case at South
Student found drugs in garage
pendleton deborah
Deborah Pendleton - photo by Submitted
The parents of a South Forsyth High student responsible for a drug overdose on campus last year have been sentenced to probation.

Oscar Carter III, 65, and Deborah Pendleton, 46, each pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of maintaining a dwelling where a controlled substance is kept.

Carter also pleaded guilty to one count of possession of methadone.

Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley sentenced them to five years of probation. They were also fined $5,000 each.

Carter and Pendleton were arrested in October after authorities determined the liquid methadone the couple’s daughter brought to school a few weeks before had come from their home.

Authorities had been called to South Forsyth High on Oct. 3 after three 15-year-old male students were hospitalized for an apparent drug overdose.

Neither Carter nor Pendleton have a criminal past, but Bagley denied them first offender status, citing the “nature of this case.”

First offender status would clear their records if they completed their probation without violating it. Bagley also asked that the case come back to him should either violate probation.

David and Helen Combs, parents of one of the boys who took the methadone, asked Bagley to give Carter and Pendleton harsher sentences.

“I’ll go to my death bed saying they needed to go to jail,” David Combs said.

They said their son suffered permanent brain damage as a result of taking the drug.

“If I felt they had one ounce of remorse for what they did or accountability I wouldn’t have shown up today,” Helen Combs said. “I’m amazed that you can do this kind of damage to somebody and walk away scot free.”

Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney James Dunn explained that there was no proof Carter and Pendleton intended for the drug to be distributed.

“The only thing I can prove is possession and that’s it,” Dunn said. “This is like any other possession case.”

Dunn said the students bear some responsibility for taking the drug.

Pendleton’s daughter, who was prosecuted in juvenile court, is in a drug court program, prosecutors said. Dunn said the cases against the other students were dropped.

Carter, who ran a methadone clinic in Louisiana until he was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, said he never intended for the drug to get into the hands of children.

Pendleton said Carter allowed him to store some of his belongings in her garage beginning in January 2006.  

She explained to Bagley that she later found a box of the drug in her garage, putting it where she thought it would be out of sight and unreachable. Both she and Carter subsequently forgot about the box, which she said was there for about a year.

Her daughter, she said, found the drug and brought it to school, where she gave it to the three boys.

Pendleton said she was called to the school that day and later met with investigators. She said she questioned her daughter about the drug.

“She said she had found some stuff of her dad’s,” said Pendleton, adding that her daughter thought it was a prescription pain killer known as hydrocodone. “She didn’t even know what she had.”