Criminally charged with drug offenses in connection with a Wayne County heroin overdose death, two Millersburg women recently denied charges of drug possession and trafficking.
Kristin Johnson, 25, of 137 Deetz St., pleaded not guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin and possession of drug abuse instruments. Her mother, Susan K. Johnson, 50, of the same address, pleaded not guilty to possession of drug abuse instruments and permitting drug abuse.
If convicted, Kristin Johnson faces up to two years in prison; Susan Johnson faces up to one year in jail.
The charges stem from a Jan. 22, 2015, sale of heroin Kristin Johnson allegedly made to Gary L. Martin III. The drugs eventually ended up in the hands of Adam Marty, who died from an overdose on the purchased heroin.
An investigation launched by the Medway Drug Enforcement Agency in the wake of Marty's death led to Martin and Jennifer Phillips, both of whom said the drugs were initially sold to Martin by Kristin Johnson, according to Joshua Hunt, tech agent for Medway.
The information led to a Jan. 30, 2015, search warrant on their Deetz Street home, where they found heroin laced with fentanyl and Susan Johnson, who was in possession of drugs. Kristin Johnson, who was not home at the time of the warrant, was interviewed and admitted to selling to Martin on the date in question, said Hunt, adding there is evidence she sold to Martin on several occasions.
In July, Martin, 33, 4400 Melrose Drive, Lot 121, Wooster, was sentenced to two years on community control Wednesday by Judge Mark K. Wiest in Wayne County Common Pleas Court. He has since been jailed on a probation violation, a hearing on which is scheduled for Wednesday.
Martin was found guilty in a bench trial May 26 of one count of trafficking in heroin (a fifth-degree felony) by Wiest. He was originally on trial on an indictment for involuntary manslaughter of Adam Marty, who died from heroin he purchased from Martin.
Marty died Jan. 22, 2015. He was 30 years old when he was reported to have overdosed in a trailer on North Bauer Road where Phillips lived at the time.
During Martin's bench trial, evidence presented indicated that Marty knew Phillips, 33, of Rittman -- who was indicted with Martin, and was an ex-girlfriend -- in attempts to get "good heroin" which was laced with fentanyl from his connection in Millersburg.
Phillips was sentenced to 180 days in jail for her role in Marty's death.
"We worked the source backwards," said Medway Director Donald Hall, noting, "A lot of times we don't get to track it back."
While investigators requested involuntary manslaughter charges be filed against Kristin Johnson, Hunt said, "the feeling was she may be too far removed for prosecution."
"It's unfortunate," Hunt said of the charging decision made by the Holmes County Prosecutor's Office. "You'd like to get the primary source for where the narcotics came from. But, there was concern she was one step too far away."
Both women, free on their own recognizance, are next scheduled to appear in Holmes County Common Pleas Court for pretrial conferences on Sept. 28. The cases are set for jury trial on Oct. 24.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.