Hanover-area woman's boyfriend gets 10-20 years for her fatal drug OD

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Benjamin Dwayne Yelton

A Clearfield County man has been sentenced to at least a decade in prison for giving drugs to a West Manheim Township woman who overdosed and died.

Benjamin Dwayne Yelton, 31, of Karthaus, pleaded guilty May 13 in York County Court to one count of drug delivery resulting in death, according to court records.

On Monday, June 24, presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness sentenced Yelton to 10 to 20 years in state prison, according to court records.

His defense attorney, Korey Leslie, declined comment Monday.

Yelton is one of five defendants charged with drug delivery resulting in death for their alleged roles in providing Skylar Nicole Smith with the heroin that killed her in 2015. One other defendant, Jacob Largent, pleaded guilty to a lesser offense.

Largent, 24, of Hampstead, Maryland, pleaded guilty in June 2018 to conspiracy to deal drugs and was sentenced to a year minus a day to two years minus two days in York County Prison, court records state.

The first-degree felony cases remain active for the three remaining defendants. They are Denise Crone, 48, of Glen Rock, and Joseph Paul, 20, and Diana Williams, 56, both of Hampstead, Maryland.

Skylar Nicole Smith

The background: West Manheim Township Police were called to a home in the 1500 block of Oakwood Drive on Dec. 11, 2015, where they found Smith lying in a hallway, unresponsive, according to court documents.

Yelton, who was Smith's boyfriend at the time, told police she'd taken 15 mg of Percocet and that she was found facedown in the bathtub, documents state. Yelton said he pulled Smith out of the tub and tried to perform CPR on her, police said.

Yelton initially denied that Smith had used heroin, police said, but her autopsy results showed she died of a combination of drugs, including heroin.

Benjamin Dwayne Yelton

"Yelton was overheard stating, 'I killed her' two separate times as he moved about within the residence," court documents state.

A search of Yelton's and Smith's cellphones revealed talk of a drug transaction involving Yelton, Crone and Paul, according to court documents.

Two inmates at the state prison in Camp Hill told police Yelton admitted to them that he gave the heroin to Smith and that she overdosed and died. He told them it was the first time she had tried the opioid, according to police.

Court documents state he later told investigators:

"Yeah, I felt I killed her, that was the first time she did dope, I gave her the bag, she trusted me to give her the right amount to get off, to get high, and I dropped the ball, it came through my contacts, I reached out and got the s—, I'm partially responsible for this."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.