Man pleads guilty in son’s drug overdose

Cole Birkhead, 16. Courtesy MSP

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — A Van Buren County man charged in his son’s drug overdose death has accepted a plea deal.

Gary Birkhead, 48, pleaded guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his son, 16-year-old Cole Birkhead. A charge of child abuse was dropped as part of the plea deal.

Authorities said Cole Birkhead started to overdose while his father was driving in August 2017. He was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he died three days later.

Prosecutors said Birkhead had supplied and used several drugs with his son on multiple occasions and neglected to seek help for his son’s drug addiction despite being advised to do so by a doctor.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.

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