Boyfriend charged in Stewartstown mother's fatal OD
A Maryland man whose Stewartstown girlfriend died of an opioid overdose more than a year ago has been charged in her death.
Robert Lee Martin III, 27, of 2 Chapel Manor Court in Perry Hall, has not yet been arraigned on the first-degree felony of drug delivery resulting in death, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison. Southern Regional Police filed the charge Jan. 4, according to court records.
Martin is accused of giving 25-year-old mother of two Bryanna Shanahan $40 so she could buy opioids and setting up a drug deal for her. It was those drugs that killed her overnight Dec. 15, 2015, in her Stewartstown home, police allege.
'Mommy is dead': According to charging documents, Shanahan's mother found her in her room after Shanahan's young son informed her that "mommy is dead." Shanahan's mother performed CPR on her until police and emergency crews arrived, but it was too late, according to documents.
Overcome with grief, Denise Shanahan told officers her daughter had planned to go to rehab for her addiction issues the next day and said she had to use drugs that night because she couldn't get into rehab unless she tested positive for drugs, documents state.
Officers found a syringe and multiple empty pill capsules around the young woman's body as well as heroin residue and other drug paraphernalia. Her cause of death was later determined to be mixed drug toxicity, and testing found morphine, fentanyl and other drugs in her system, police said.
A deputy coroner called to the scene estimated Bryanna Shanahan had been dead about 10 hours, documents state.
Had rehab plan: Denise Shanahan said her daughter left for Baltimore to buy drugs. She said she pleaded with her daughter not to buy heroin, and she also told officers her daughter was seeing a man named Bobby who lived in the Perry Hall area, documents state.
A review of Bryanna Shanahan's cellphone records showed numerous text messages between her and "Bobby," who police said is Martin. She sent her last message at 9:31 p.m., not long before her death, police said.
Documents reveal that, hours earlier, she texted Martin that she needed drugs to be in her system for rehab, "N I don't want garbage. ... I need to know u have 40 bucks ... period ... N that ur gonna buy me one. Or I'm gonna be f—n furious."
'My last stuff': Later, after returning to Stewartstown with drugs, she texted Martin that she was "doing my last stuff" and also texted, "I'd rather be clean sober n happy than sticking a needle in my arm," according to charging documents.
Martin later told officers he could tell she was doing drugs and said he had used heroin with her several times in the past, documents state.
"They reportedly began dating with the agreement that each ... would work to prevent (the) other from using drugs again," documents state.
Martin gave Bryanna Shanahan the money to buy heroin then set up a drug deal for her, documents allege.
Difficult decisions: Chief deputy prosecutor Dave Sunday said decisions about whether to charge friends, romantic partners and family members of fatal overdose victims aren't easy.
"Every one of these cases presents its own unique set of facts and circumstances," he said. "Police officers and prosecutors continue to do the best with all the facts they have at hand in making charging decisions in cases like this."
Sunday said he was unable to speak specifically about Martin's case, but he noted that a wide range of sentencing options are available, including treatment.
"The level of (a defendant's) culpability is something that's always taken into consideration," he said, and while the goal is to take drug dealers off the street, it's not always easy to determine who's who.
Line crossed? "In a lot of circumstances, it's a gray area between who's a drug dealer and who's a drug user," Sunday said.
In Martin's case, a line was crossed, Sunday said.
He confirmed the York Regional Opiate Collaborative, formerly the county's heroin task force, will look into whether there was any truth to Bryanna Shanahan's belief she couldn't enter rehab without drugs in her system.
"We're doing everything we can to identify gaps in treatment and where gaps need to be filled," Sunday said. "This is something we're working on every day."
Court records don't list an attorney for Martin. He could not be reached for comment; his phone number had been disconnected.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.