|Nicole Lavery (left) and Rhiannon Radetzky|
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Cops: 2 women charged in separate heroin-related deaths
Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
Bensalem police have charged two women who allegedly supplied heroin that killed two people in separate incidents hours apart earlier this month in what may be among the first local prosecutions under an enhanced law for drug delivery deaths.
Nicole Marie Lavery, 39, no fixed address, admitted buying the drug in Philadelphia and providing a bag to Megan Boni, 26, who subsequently overdosed and died early Sept. 1, according to authorities.
Later that same day police say Bensalem resident Rhiannon Radetzky, 22, admitted buying heroin and providing it to her friend — 23-year-old Francisco Lopez — who later died of an overdose at her home.
The first incident happened at the Radford Motel in the 4000 block of Bristol Pike in Bensalem. Police responded to the motel for an unresponsive woman — later identified as Boni — around 5:30 a.m. Lavery and Boni’s boyfriend were also in the room and told police they were watching TV, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Boni was taken to Aria Health’s Torresdale campus where she died shortly before 7 a.m. police said. A subsequent autopsy determined the cause of death was “drug intoxication,” according to the affidavit.
When police interviewed Lavery, she said the two met in drug rehab and she believed Boni was addicted to “benzos and crack” referring to benzodiazepines, a drug that treats various conditions such as anxiety, depression and muscle relaxation, and crack cocaine.
“When asked about drug use, Lavery originally denied any drug use, stating she had been sober for months,” according to the affidavit.
Boni’s boyfriend, though, provided a different series of events prior to the fatal overdose, police said. The man had not been charged in the case as of Thursday.
He claimed that Lavery and Boni were at a bar in Delaware County and Lavery kept talking about wanting to “get high,” court papers said. The three drove to Philadelphia where Lavery bought heroin. The trio then headed to the Radford.
Soon after the three got to the motel, the boyfriend said he noticed something was wrong with Boni, though he didn’t see her take any drugs. Boni was snoring loudly, which wasn’t normal for her, the man said, according to the affidavit.
The snoring eventually stopped and he checked on Boni. He woke up Lavery, who told him that Boni just needed to “sleep it off,” court papers said.
When the boyfriend checked on her 20 minutes later he found her unconscious and her lips turned bluish, police said.
Again, the man said he woke up Lavery and told her to call 911. Instead of immediately calling for help, the man said that Lavery went into the bathroom two or three times first, according to police.
Police responded to the second overdose shortly after 10 a.m. when they were dispatched to an Allison Court home for a report of a man in cardiac arrest.
When police arrived they found Lopez dead on the floor of a bedroom.
Officers found blue wax paper bags commonly used to package heroin on the floor next to him and in an adjacent bathroom and other paraphernalia common among heroin users, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
An autopsy later determined that Lopez died of “drug intoxication.”
Radetzky, who lives at the home, told police she was with Lopez the previous night and he stayed overnight. They went to sleep around 2 a.m. and when she woke up shortly before 7:30 a.m. she found Lopez on the floor making a “gurgling” noise, according to the affidavit.
In an interview with police, Radetzky told police that when she found Lopez unconscious she asked a roommate what she should do. He told her to call 911.
But Radetzky said she thought that Lopez “just had to sleep it off,” according to court documents. She put a blanket over him and a pillow under his head, police said.
When she checked on Lopez again around 9 a.m. she heard him making “gurgling” noises “so she thought he was fine,” Radetzky told police, court documents said.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Radetzky’s grandfather came over to the house and he called 911, police said.
Radetzky admitted that there “might be” text messages or phone calls in her cellphone in reference to buying drugs, court documents said. She also told police she set up a purchase of heroin from a drug dealer she knows in Philadelphia and bought the heroin the night before. She also gave some of the heroin to Lopez at her house.
Lavery was arraigned Wednesday night before Penndel District Judge Daniel Baranoski on drug delivery resulting in death, recklessly endangering another person and related charges. She was sent to Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $75,000.
Radetzky was arraigned Thursday before Bensalem District Judge Joseph
Falcone on drug delivery resulting in death of victim, recklessly endangering another person and related drug charges. She was sent to Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $500,000 bail.
Under a July 2011 change in state law, the grading for drug delivery resulting in death was increased from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony. It also doubled the maximum prison sentence from 20 to 40 years and made it easier to prosecute cases.
Previously, the law required that prosecutors prove a defendant showed “malice” — meaning the person acted with extreme disregard for human life — to get a conviction on the charge. Now prosecutors have only to prove a defendant delivered the drug and that a death resulted from that drug.