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Cornelius News

Drug dealer who ran student party den in Cornelius sentenced to 7 years

July 8. [Updated July 9] By Mark Washburn. Family and friends of two Hough High School students who died of fentanyl poisoning filled two benches Monday at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse to watch a Cornelius drug dealer admit her guilt in a trafficking scheme that targeted local youths.

Asked whether she was in fact guilty, Tina Marie Alexander, 46, replied so softly that Superior Court Judge David Strickland ordered her to speak up.

“Yes, sir,” she replied, her frame sagging in a purple jail jumpsuit and hands clenched to her chest.

Strickland asked her whether she wanted to say anything.

“I’m sorry,” she wept. “I didn’t mean to cause such problems.”

“You make the choice to deal drugs,” Strickland replied, “and there’s the pain and suffering you cause other people.”

Plea deal

Under a plea agreement, Alexander will serve at least seven and a half years and up to 10 in state prison, with credit for 390 days already served in jail. She will be on probation for two years when released during which time she can have no contact with anyone under the age of 18. In all, 21 other drug-related charges against her were dismissed.

Strickland also imposed a fine of $100,000.

Anna McMillan, Alexander’s public defender, said her client sold narcotics because she was in debt to her drug dealer for $100,000 and feared for her life. She became an addict because of childhood trauma, McMillan said.

Alexander told the court she had a 10th grade education and for the last year in jail took Wellbutrin and other psychiatric medications because of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and “night terrors.”

Lydia Butts, the assistant district attorney, described how one raid on Alexander’s mobile home at 7620 Norman Island Drive near the border with Huntersville netted nearly 900 fentanyl pills and 10 grams of fentanyl powder.

NEW: Alexander also faces charges in Iredell County of trafficking opium or heroin, trafficking methamphetamine and possession with intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance. She was arrested by Mooresville Police in October 2021.

Parents speak

Olivia Moloney

Over the objection of Alexander’s attorney who argued her client had not been charged in the Hough overdoses, Strickland allowed parents of the dead students to speak.

“I hope no other family has to go through what we all went through,” said Tamara Ellestad, whose 14-year-old daughter Olivia Moloney was found overdosed in her bed in September 2022. “She was just a baby.”

Gwyn Brown, mother of Laird Ramirez who was 17 when he died of an overdose 53 weeks ago, told the court her agony remains fresh. “I have had nightmares every night for the last year,” she said, “from missing my son.”

Hough students would go to Alexander’s mobile home to party and buy pills for $10 a pop, the parents later learned. Alexander was known as “Mama Ti-ti,” leading some to believe she was just another parent.

No signs of drug experimentation

After court, both families talked to Cornelius Today about their children. Both students were musically talented and neither exhibited any signs of experimenting with drugs.

Laird Ramirez

Ramirez enjoyed electronic music and put together a song for his mother. “At the end, he said, ‘I love you, mom.’ That was the best song ever,” Brown said.

Their family moved from Southern California just before Covid hit. Ramirez grew 9 inches taller to 6-foot-3 during the pandemic.

Brown said her son abhorred bullying and would stick up for people who were picked on.

He had a wide retinue of friends on both coasts. He kept in touch with his California friends through online gaming.

Phone revealed connection

Olivia Moloney died on Sept. 11, 2022. Her parents tied her to Alexander through messages on her phone.

She was funny, beautiful, loving, rode horses and wanted to grow up to be a forensic scientist, her parents said.

Olivia’s sister Scarlett, 14, said Olivia left a diary that indicated she hadn’t been experimenting with drugs for long and was taking steps to quit them. “But she took too much and she died.”

Brown said she was disappointed that Alexander didn’t get a more severe sentence.

“She’s been a menace in Huntersville and Cornelius forever,” she said. “It wasn’t justice today.”

NEW: Also arrested in the case was Matthew Dominguez. In April, he was sentenced to20 to 36 months in prison, which was suspended pending two years of successful probation. He moved to Jacksonville, Fla., and is serving probation under Florida supervision.


8 Responses to “Drug dealer who ran student party den in Cornelius sentenced to 7 years”

  1. It’s criminal that dealers that especially cause death by these drugs are not sentenced for murder.

    Posted by Gigi | July 8, 2024, 4:51 pm
    • An eye for an eye, and so on ! Which says to me, a life for a life. But on the other hand, we should leave the judgments for God to do. In my simple opinion they should get half of a life sentence plus 10.

      Posted by Sandra Kent | July 9, 2024, 1:59 pm
  2. Her sentence isn’t nearly enough considering all the destruction she is responsible for. Prayers go out to her victims, both living and deceased.

    Posted by Laura | July 8, 2024, 5:06 pm
  3. Excellent this piece of garbage helped murder two and this is justice in this cowardice county?

    Posted by Mike | July 8, 2024, 6:52 pm
  4. Talk about a slap on the wrist. Fent and meth and H as well as cocaine are terrible substances. And I have lost many friends from that crap. She should have gotten 25 to life. But of course she got off easy. When will the justice system actually get something right. Strickland is no better than her. I send my heartfelt sympathy to the families. Such young and beautiful souls taken so early.

    Posted by Chanson Scott | July 8, 2024, 10:26 pm
  5. only 7-1/2 years with one credited for time served. No, life in prison . Childhood trauma, a lot of children have childhood trauma and don’t do drugs or sell drugs to other kids. That excuse is, I cannot say the word, and everyone knows it. Poor me, I sold drugs to kids, had them partying at my mobile home and took their money and killed them. Yes killed them just like a mobster would kill you with putting poison in your coffee. This was first degree, premeditated murder.

    Posted by Reta Berman | July 9, 2024, 9:31 am
  6. The sentence is not even close to enough for the devastation she has cause and we will not even see its full affects for a lifetime! For every roach there is 5 more and for every kid we know of affected there are 5 more. Today there are dozens of kids struggling because of Tina Marie Alexander. Some parents are trying, some given up and some completely unaware of the death lurking around their kids.

    Posted by Tiffany | July 10, 2024, 11:42 am
  7. Shameful commentary on our judicial system. Two known deaths and how many others poisoned by this woman?

    Posted by Kathy Butterfield | July 10, 2024, 2:32 pm

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