A heroin dealer who fled the scene of a deadly hit-and-run in Norristown while wanted in connection with a fatal overdose in Upper Merion has pleaded guilty to charges in both crimes.
Marquese Gaines, 30, of Germantown, was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday but entered guilty pleas last week to drug delivery resulting in death and accidents involving death or injury, prosecutors said. He will be sentenced in December. As part of Gaines’ guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend that his minimum prison term be less than eight years.
Gaines’ attorney, Michael Daly, did not return a request for comment Tuesday.
Montgomery County investigators began searching for Gaines in 2018, in connection with a large-scale heroin ring that was distributing the narcotic throughout the region. The group was tied to multiple fatal overdoses, including that of Daniel Marinari, 53, who was found dead in the basement of an Upper Merion home in December 2018 from drugs directly linked to Gaines, prosecutors said.
Five members of the group were arrested, but Gaines eluded police for months. Then, in August 2019, Gaines was involved in a crash in Norristown while out delivering drugs, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest.
Gaines pulled out in front of Timothy Manning Jr., 35, as he drove on East Airy Street. Manning was unable to stop, and his motorcycle hit the front bumper of Gaines’ car, the affidavit said. Gaines, panicking, ran off and later told the woman he had borrowed the car from about the crash, according to investigators.
Manning, a Hatfield resident, later died from his injuries.
Gaines told the woman that Manning looked grievously injured, but said he couldn’t contact police or remain at the scene because of the drug case, according to court documents. The woman later reported the car stolen to Philadelphia police.
Months went by, and the car sat in an impound lot. County investigators were contacted by a confidential informant, who told them that Gaines had been behind the wheel of the car that killed Manning.
Detectives collected DNA evidence from a fast-food cup left in the car, and found that it was a positive match to Gaines.