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Carney pleads in overdose death

Hollidaysburg man gets 10-20 years

Carney

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Hollidaysburg man will spend 10 to 20 years in prison, followed by five years’ probation, after pleading guilty Thursday to heroin delivery in connection with a fatal overdose in 2016 and a near-fatal overdose earlier this year.

Clinton W. Carney, 29, was expected to select a jury Monday to hear the criminal charges that Holli­days­burg Borough police filed in connection with the

Jan. 31, 2016, heroin overdose death of 46-year-old Christopher Johnston of Hollidaysburg.

In exchange for the recommended jail sentence, Carney pleaded guilty to drug delivery resulting in death, criminal conspiracy and related charges.

Carney’s plea also addresses heroin delivery and additional criminal charges Hollidaysburg police filed in response to a Jan. 11 near-fatal overdose death on the 1200 block of Walnut Street. Police administered naloxone nasal spray to revive the man who consumed the heroin. He later identified Carney as the supplier of the heroin. At the time of the Jan. 11 overdose, Carney was facing criminal charges in the 2016 case, but he was out of jail on bail.

Standing before Judge Daniel J. Milliron on Thursday, Carney offered polite responses to questions about his guilty pleas. Carney declined when asked if he wanted to make any statements.

Johnston’s brother, Kevin, was in the courtroom to watch Carney render the pleas.

After court concluded, Kevin Johnston said he wasn’t expecting an apology because Carney has never shown remorse.

“He’s a cancer to society … an habitual offender,” Johnston said of Carney.

As for a 10- to 20-year prison sentence, Kevin Johnston said his family considered the length to be acceptable, followed by the probation.

“Nothing will bring Chris back,” Johnston said. “He was my baby brother and a wonderful, funny, funny guy.”

After court concluded, Assistant District Attorney Derek Elensky described Carney’s case as an example of how the community is damaged by the illegal drug trade.

“There’s one less son, one less brother, one less family member,” Elensky said.

Milliron readily acknowledged his intention to accept Carney’s guilty pleas and impose the negotiated sentence. The judge said he was very familiar with the case and supervised it for more than two years.

Defense attorney Ed Zang, who previously challenged the evidence offered in the case, stood with Carney as his client rendered the guilty pleas. In an earlier challenge, Zang pointed out that a packet of heroin residue found near Johnston’s body had a purple stamp, while no purple-stamp bags were ever found in a search of Carney’s residence.

Police, however, also had text messages connecting Carney’s heroin delivery to Johnston. They also identified Erin Lynn Crawford as having been with Carney during the delivery to Johnston in the parking lot of a convenience store. Crawford, who also faces drug delivery charges that were on hold pending Carney’s charges, is scheduled to render her guilty pleas on Aug. 16.

Elensky credited Hol­lidays­burg police for putting together what he and First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks considered to be a very strong case.

“Pete has been ready to go to trial on this case for a long time,” Elensky said. “I think the only reason Carney plead was because of the strength of this case.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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