No more jail time for boyfriend of teen who OD'd on heroin
- A judge suppressed a taped police interview of Tyler Valentine in part because he wasn't Mirandized.
- Valentine could have faced 20 to 40 years in prison if convicted of drug delivery resulting in death.
A New Freedom man initially accused of providing heroin to his teenage girlfriend, who fatally overdosed in 2014, has pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge after spending nearly 11 months in county prison.
Tyler Shane Valentine was 18 years old on Feb. 13, 2014, when his girlfriend, Alexandra Marie Sneed, 17, overdosed in the bedroom of his East Franklin Street home.
Southern Regional Police charged Valentine with the felonies of drug delivery resulting in death and heroin possession with intent to deliver, as well as lesser offenses, according to court records.
But in December 2014, Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder dismissed the two felony charges after granting defense attorney Douglas Bare's motion to suppress Valentine's two-hour videotaped police interview, records state.
"There was no evidence," Bare told The York Dispatch on Thursday. "It's as simple as that."
Snyder determined Valentine had not been given his Miranda warnings regarding his rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present, according to court records. The judge also found that it was reasonable for Valentine to have assumed he wasn't allowed to leave the interview, despite prosecutors' assertion to the contrary.
"They never Mirandized him at all," Bare said.
Appealed: The York County District Attorney's Office appealed to the state Superior Court, which on Sept. 4, 2015, agreed with Snyder in a 27-page opinion.
Prosecutors then asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear their appeal, but the state's highest court declined to take the case in May of this year.
As part of a negotiated agreement with the prosecution, Valentine pleaded guilty Thursday in York County Court to possession of drug paraphernalia; he was sentenced to six to 12 months in York County Prison and given credit for time served, according to court records.
Valentine spent 316 days locked up on $750,000 bail between April 2014 and March 2015, which is when Judge Snyder dismissed the two felony counts, according to Bare. He was then released on unsecured bail, the attorney said.
The background: Valentine and Alexandra dated for about two years, and the two had taken to snorting lines of heroin together weekly, according to court documents.
She was a Susquehannock High School senior who previously played soccer and softball, and she had played violin for her school orchestra, according to her obituary.
Police had alleged Valentine provided the heroin that killed Alexandra. Bare said his client maintains his innocence.
The couple fell asleep in Valentine's home about 12:30 a.m. Feb. 13, 2014, and when Valentine awoke about 8 a.m. he realized she was pale and her lips were blue, documents state.
'Tragic': He yelled for his mother, who started CPR on Alexandra while Valentine called 911, documents state. The teen was rushed to York Hospital but could not be revived, police said. This happened before the district attorney's office began supplying naloxone — the antidote to heroin — to all police departments in York County.
"They obviously both had some drug issues," Bare said. "It's a very tragic situation."
Bare said he doesn't believe the state's charge of drug delivery resulting in death was meant to be used in cases where two people are simply sharing drugs.
The maximum punishment for the charge is 20 to 40 years in state prison.
Prosecutors in the case could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.