York woman pleads guilty in case of fatal heroin OD
A York City woman battling heroin addiction pleaded guilty Thursday to delivering heroin to the friend of a man who overdosed and died from the drug. Police allege she and others prevented the victim's friend from calling 911.
In exchange for Shybri Latae Walker's plea, her more serious charge of drug delivery resulting in death will eventually be dismissed in an agreement approved by presiding York County Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner.
The felony of drug delivery resulting in death is akin in severity to a third-degree murder charge, with a maximum 20- to 40-year state prison sentence.
It was an open plea, meaning there was no agreed-upon sentence and it will be up to Bortner to determine an appropriate punishment.
The agreement calls for Walker to be released next week to an in-patient rehabilitation center, where she will remain as long as necessary. That could be 30 days, or it could be a year, defense attorney Bill Graff said.
'Short leash': Once released from the rehab center, Walker will remain on supervised probation until she is sentenced, which Graff said was his idea.
"She's on a real short leash. ... You've got to reduce as much temptation as you can," he said, adding that her physical addiction ended shortly after being incarcerated. "It's the mental addiction (she's still fighting)."
Walker, 29, of South Queen Street, has been in York County Prison since Feb. 27, 2015.
Bortner scheduled sentencing for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 29 and ordered a full pre-sentence investigation be done to help him determine Walker's punishment.
Graff confirmed Walker is expected to testify in Harrisburg's federal court against those who allegedly refused to let victim William Elza's friend summon 911 when Elza overdosed on Jan. 21, 2015.
"She's an un-indicted co-conspirator (in the federal case)," Graff said.
Possible consideration: He said he's hoping the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg "will speak up for her" at the time of her sentencing, based on her cooperation.
"She was very truthful (to investigators)," Graff said. "She feels very bad for what she did."
Chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday said those charged federally in relation to Elza's death are facing sentences of 20 years to life if convicted.
"Regardless of any cooperation, (Walker's) plea agreement was crafted in a way that would hold her responsible for her role but also give her an opportunity to seek treatment, due to the fact that she was such a limited player in this case," Sunday said. "The most villainous players in this have been federally indicted."
Federal case: Three York City men have been indicted in Harrisburg's federal court for Elza's death.
Dameon Lattimore, 38, and Yushonda Durant, 40, are charged with drug delivery resulting in death and selling drugs; Frederick Gladfelter 46, is accused of allowing them use his property to sell drugs.
Lattimore was arrested in New York City, and Gladfelter was arrested in York, authorities said.
Durant remains on the lam and is being sought by members of the U.S. Marshals Service, Sunday said Thursday. Anyone with information on his whereabouts should call 911.
Dragged to alley: The indictment alleges Lattimore and Durant sold 100 grams of heroin and 280 grams of crack between November 2014 and February 2015. It also states someone to whom they sold drugs overdosed and died on Jan. 21. York City Police have confirmed the victim was Elza.
The incident happened at 316 Harding Court, police have said. The federal indictment indicates that's Gladfelter's home.
Police have said Walker and others stopped Justin Mays from calling police after 26-year-old Elza succumbed to crack-cocaine and heroin.
Instead, they dragged Elza into a snowy alley, where police found him dead, court documents state.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.