Ardmore man bound over for trial in manslaughter case

Sierra Rains
The Daily Ardmoreite
Matthew Kemp Northam

An Ardmore man accused of first-degree manslaughter has been bound over for trial. 

Following a preliminary hearing last month, Special District Judge Carson Brooks found probable cause to support the claims against 54-year-old Matthew Kemp Northam. 

Northam is ordered to appear before District Judge Dennis Morris for an arraignment, where he will be read the charges against him and asked to enter a plea, on Feb. 24. A charge for first-degree manslaughter was filed against Northam in June, 2020 following an investigation into a Dec. 2019 collision that killed one individual and injured another. 

According to Carter County court documents, Northam is believed to have been under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the collision on Dec. 9. Court records state that Northam was operating a 2017 white Peterbuilt tanker truck on State Highway 76, near Maverick Road, south of Wilson. 

The charging documents accuse Northam of driving in a “careless or wanton manner without regard for the safety of persons,” and allowing the truck to begin drifting left of center into oncoming traffic. 

At around 3:43 p.m., Northam’s truck reportedly side swiped a 2014 gold Chevrolet Traverse sports utility vehicle driven by 30-year-old Brandi Salyer, of Wilson. According to a Dec. 10 report by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Salyer sustained critical trunk internal, trunk external, leg and head injuries from the collision. 

Salyer succumbed to her injuries a day after the collision at the Plano Medical Center in Texas. Another individual involved in the collision was transported to the Ardmore Mercy Hospital, and later transferred to the OU Medical Center to be treated for a head injury. 

The charging documents accuse Northam of causing the death of Salyer due to reckless driving and driving under the influence. First-degree manslaughter carries a possible sentence of anywhere from four years to life in prison.

First-degree manslaughter is also considered an 85% crime, which requires individuals convicted to serve at least 85% of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.