Man with ‘huffing’ habit sent to SCI

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A 25-year-old Claysburg man was sent Friday to a state correctional institution so he potentially can participate in a treatment program to help him deal with his addiction to the contents of compressed air dusters.

Most of the people in the Adult Drug Court overseen by President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva have problems with heroin, cocaine or various pills, but Shawn Richard Murphy engages in “huffing,” or smelling the contents of multi-purpose cleaners.

A year ago, Murphy was found passed out in the men’s room of a Broad Avenue convenience store.

The criminal charges said he was “huffing” a can of Maxell Blast Away, a multi-purpose duster that was found in the restroom.

He tried to steal a similar can of compressed air on Aug. 15, 2013.

That led to charges of retail theft.

Murphy was before Kopriva Friday on several retail theft and public intoxication charges stemming from his huffing, and the judge decided that he needed more intense treatment than he has been receiving.

She ordered that Murphy be sent to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill to be evaluated for the state Intermediate Punishment Program, which is a treatment program for inmates at the state level.

Murphy, she explained, will spend seven months in prison, seven months in a separate part of the prison devoted to treatment for addicts and a final seven months in a community corrections center.

Murphy’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Ed Ferguson, asked that Murphy be kept in the Blair County Prison as opposed to being sent to a state facility, emphasizing that the charges against Murphy were all misdemeanors.

But as Kopriva said, Murphy has not done well when it comes to local treatment programs.

“My goal is to get treatment first. That’s important to me,” Kopriva said.

Murphy, she said, has been in her drug court and has received treatment through the prison re-entry program, Pyramid Healthcare of Blair County and Cove Forge, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Williamsburg.

Despite all that help, he continued inhaling various substances.

“It leads me to believe your addiction is so powerful you have no control over it,” Kopriva said.

She said there are two reasons for this: Either he can’t control his addiction, or he has a criminal mind and just doesn’t care.

Murphy assured Kopriva he does not have a criminal mind.

Kopriva expressed concern that Murphy is on the road to a tragic death, by inhaling these toxic substances.

“You will make an error because you are under the influence. You will kill yourself,” she said.

The judge concluded Murphy needed intense treatment.

She said in sending Murphy to the county prison, he could do his time, but, she warned that was only a short-term solution.

“You can do your time at Blair County Prison. When you get out, you will use again. … No doubt about it,” she said.

Murphy will not be automatically admitted to the state treatment program.

He will go through a 50-day evaluation period and at the end will be declared either qualified or not qualified to State Intermediate Punishment.

If he is considered qualified, he will be formally sentenced to IPP, and his treatment will begin.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.