City woman takes plea deal

McConnell gets 4-10 years for role in heroin deal gone bad

HOLLIDAYSBURG — An Altoona woman will serve four to 10 years in prison for her role in what police described last year as a heroin deal gone bad.

Tonia Lynn McConnell, 49, who has been incarcerated since August 2016, entered guilty pleas Tuesday in Blair County Court to felony charges of robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery and aggravated assault in exchange for a recommended sentence. She also entered guilty pleas to four drug-related charges, including possession with intent to deliver and criminal conspiracy.

McConnell was expected to be on trial this week before Judge Wade Kagarise. But the jury was dismissed after Kagarise accepted McConnell’s pleas and imposed the recommended sentence.

“This case was an example of how dangerous the drug world is and why we must keep trying to combat the drug trade,” Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky said.

Altoona police arrested McConnell and Carlos A. Norton, 23, in August 2016 after investigating a report of shots being fired on the 1300 block of North Fourth Avenue. Norton, whose charges include attempted homicide, is accused of firing shots at a man who had gone to McConnell’s residence with a companion seeking to make a heroin purchase.

According to police, McConnell told them she had been apprehensive about the pending heroin sale because she believed the pair had stolen three bundles of heroin from her the previous week.

But police later learned that McConnell and Norton had set up the couple because they wanted to recover the money that McConnel believed she was owed.

During a confrontation that developed, McConnell and Norton got into a fight with the couple. And as they attempted to flee, Norton fired shots, which hit their vehicle.

Elensky said McConnell’s pleas reflect her role as a conspirator and accomplice in the robbery.

Norton remains incarcerated and could be tried later this year.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.