Jury finds Schneider not guilty of delivery, overdose deaths

Max Schneider acquitted of delivery of a controlled substance, involuntary manslaughter related to Saratoga fentanyl deaths


September 7, 2023

Late in the morning of August 31, the trial of Max Jacob Schneider came to an end as the jury delivered a verdict of not guilty on all three charges faced by the 24-year-old Saratoga man.

Schneider was arrested on February 17 following an investigation into the deaths of Megan Cassidee Wingo, 27, and Richard Heap, 28, around February 4. He pleaded not guilty to the charges which were delivery of a controlled substance and two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, Scheider had allegedly found a small plastic bag containing a white powder in the bathroom of a local restaurant where he worked. Witnesses told investigators that, after finding the bag, Schneider showed it to other employees which allegedly matched the description of a bag found at the residence of Wingo and Heap. The white powder which Schneider had initially believed to be cocaine turned back a presumptive positive for fentanyl when tested by law enforcement.

A toxicology report on Wingo later confirmed that she had nearly 11 times the lethal amount of fentanyl in her system. Investigators alleged in court documents this showed the substance was used like cocaine by both Wingo and Heap.

The bag was eventually connected to the overdose death of Christoper Lansing of Hanna. Lansing and his roommates, according to a separate investigation, had been in Saratoga to attend a junior high basketball game when he lost the drugs. Earlier this year, Marty Leroy Ervine of Washington State was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Lansing.

During closing arguments, Carbon County Attorney Sarah Chavez Harkins argued Schneider should be found guilty, telling the jury “There’s no question fentanyl went to Cassidee Wingo or Richard Heap.” She further argued the only way the jury could find him not guilty was if the drugs were stolen, citing testimony given by Schneider during the trial.

“One version of events is not corroborated by the evidence,” said Harkins, further citing testimony from Schneider. “These statements were made to distance himself. He immediately began to protect himself.”

Vaughn Neubauer, Schneider’s attorney, argued the State of Wyoming had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt his client had delivered the fentanyl to either Wingo or Heap nor had they disproven his claim the bag was stolen from him. Neubauer told the jury “The State is asking you to guess.”

Also citing his client’s testimony, Neubauer said Schneider was “grateful to be alive … at the same time he’s sad his friends died. Max has very conflicting emotions.” Neubauer further argued there were other people who should be facing charges in the deaths of Wingo and Heap, naming Ervine as well as Lansing and his roommates.

The jury deliberated for approximately an hour before delivering their verdict on all three charges. After the verdicts were delivered, Schneider embraced his parents and family friend Mike Martell in the courtroom.


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