Hanover-area heroin dealer convicted of overdose murder
A Franklin County woman is facing decades in prison, convicted of third-degree murder and other charges for providing a fatal dose of heroin to a Hanover man nearly eight years ago.
Jennifer Busbey, 27, of Mont Alto but formerly of Gettysburg, was convicted Friday, May 18, of third-degree murder, drug delivery resulting in death, heroin possession with intent to deliver and criminal conspiracy to commit all three offenses.
Her victim, 20-year-old Aaron Lawrence, died July 20, 2010.
Busbey's co-defendant, Justin Wentz, 29, of Hanover, is charged with the same offenses but will stand trial separately, according to court records. He is currently serving time at the state prison in Marienville, Forest County, according to prison records.
Busbey is scheduled to be sentenced on July 24, according to court records. Both her third-degree murder conviction and her drug delivery resulting in death conviction carry a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.
Her defense attorney, George Margetas, declined comment until after sentencing.
Wentz's trial was severed from Busbey's so Wentz could testify for the defense in the case, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.
Use immunity: Wentz was granted what's known as "use immunity" to testify, both King and Margetas confirmed.
Use immunity is not full immunity, King said. It means that nothing he said on the witness stand can be used against him at his own trial, but he can still be prosecuted with all of the evidence collected against him by investigators.
Wentz's trial date has not yet been set.
Hanover Police have said Busbey and Wentz drove to Baltimore to get the heroin, which was then given to Lawrence. He overdosed from it that night, according to court documents.
Police were called to a house in the 800 block of Broadway about 4:45 a.m. July 20, 2010, by Wentz, who reported that Lawrence was not breathing, court documents state.
Wentz told 911 dispatchers he did not know what happened to Lawrence, police said.
While on scene, officers found Busbey's purse, which had two baggies inside that tested positive for heroin and cocaine residue, police said.
What was missing: "Suspiciously absent from the room was any means to prepare heroin for ingestion into the human body or any devices used to ingest the substance into the human body," Sgt. Jason Byers wrote in charging documents.
Police say Wentz called and texted different people that night, leading up to his 911 call early that morning. He even called Lawrence six times between 12:30 a.m. and 1:55 a.m., despite the fact that the two were in the same house, police said.
A witness told police Busbey confessed to providing Lawrence with heroin that night, and that he turned blue, lost consciousness and went into convulsions, documents state.
That person told authorities Busbey and Wentz gathered all the drugs and paraphernalia and hid all of it in a shed behind Busbey's mother's home before returning and finding Lawrence dead, documents state.
No remorse? The witness told police that Busbey felt no remorse, despite the fact that she sold heroin to someone who'd just been released from prison and had a low tolerance for the opioid, according to police.
"Busbey stated that 'police did not have enough to go on, and she would probably never be charged,'" Byers wrote in charging documents. Busbey allegedly said she did not call 911 because she did not want to be "involved" in the death, police said.
Police have said that if the opioid antidote Narcan had been administered in a timely manner, Lawrence would have lived.
Online court records show Wentz pleaded guilty in 2015 to aggravated assault by vehicle charges in Adams County.
'Typical' family: Lawrence's mother, Tracy Lawrence, has told The York Dispatch that her son was a typical boy from "the typical Hanover family."
She said her son told her he started snorting heroin, but eventually it progressed to intravenous injections.
"He said he never shot himself up," Tracy Lawrence said. "It was always someone else, because he could not do that to himself."
Aaron Lawrence's addiction caused him to steal items, and he racked up theft-related charges in both York and Adams counties, according to court records.
He was locked up for his crimes and released on July 8, 2010, looking healthier and happier, his mother said.
Less than two weeks later, he was dead.
Tracy Lawrence said her middle son was an energetic boy who loved skateboarding and riding BMX bikes.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.