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Two jailed for fatal overdose

Two people are in jail on felony charges after a fatal overdose in Altoona.

Robert D. Patterson, 43, and Nicole L. Keller, 39, were both arraigned Monday morning on felony counts that include drug delivery resulting in death and delivery of heroin in the Sunday morning overdose death of Michael Bryant.

Bryant died early Sunday after using heroin that his girlfriend allegedly bought from Patterson on her way home from work, according to charges filed by Altoona police.

Police allege that when she woke up to find Bryant in the fetal position, drooling on the floor and not breathing, she first called Patterson before calling 911.

Patterson showed up with two doses of Narcan and after Bryant was still not responding, Patterson performed CPR on the man.

Officers were dispatched at 7:47 a.m. to the Fairview Hills apartment shared by Keller and Bryant, 221 E. Maple Court, where AMED ambulance personnel and Altoona firefighters were on scene and working to save Bryant’s life in an upstairs bedroom.

Bryant was pronounced dead at the scene, and as police and deputy coroners from the Blair County Coroner’s Office talked to Keller, she initially said Bryant had a history of drug use and said Bryant “might have done heroin,” Altoona police Detective Sgt. Terry Merritts noted in the charges.

Police said Keller and Patterson both agreed to talk to investigators at the Altoona Police Department, but Patterson eventually left the lobby while Keller was inside talking to police. Keller allegedly “told a series of lies as to how she believed the events of the evening transpired,” the detective noted in the charges.

When confronted with evidence in the case, Keller gave police a statement.

Keller, who is a bartender, allegedly admitted Bryant told her to stop by Patterson’s residence, 510 10th St., on her way home from work to buy a 10-packet bundle of heroin.

She told police Patterson had just returned from Philadelphia and that he and Patterson had called and texted throughout Saturday and into Sunday.

When she stopped by Patterson’s home, the bundle of heroin was ready and Patterson was filling other packets of heroin. She paid Patterson $160, took the heroin and drove home.

Keller told officers that Bryant looked over the heroin and as he was holding one of the packets, which was blue, he made the comment that it didn’t look as though there was the right amount of heroin in it.

Keller said she asked Bryant to step outside with her to smoke a cigarette, but he didn’t walk outside, and when she returned, Keller was sitting on a chair in their bedroom and watching television. Keller indicated she fell asleep in bed at about 5 a.m. and when she awoke at about 6:45 a.m., Bryant was on the floor.

Keller told police she thought Bryant had a pulse, but he wasn’t breathing. She then called Patterson for help and a short time later, he arrived with two doses of naloxone, which he gave to Bryant. When the naloxone failed to revive Bryant, Patterson performed CPR. Keller then called 911, police said.

Police said Keller’s parents arrived at the police department while Keller was talking to investigators and while in the lobby, Patterson asked Keller’s mother if he could use her cellphone. After Keller sent several text messages and made a series of phone calls, he deleted everything he had done on the phone and gave the phone back.

Patterson left the police department before talking to investigators, who were already in the process of getting a search warrant for his home, according to the charges. Officers rushed to Patterson’s home where they found him and several pieces of drug paraphernalia sitting out in the open. Patterson was detained until more officers could arrive and the search warrant could be procured from a judge.

Police said Patterson didn’t cooperate and refused to talk about the case, but he did admit he bought heroin in Philadelphia and that Keller had been at his place about 4:20 a.m. to try to buy heroin. Patterson claimed he had texted with and talked to Bryant by phone and Bryant “would frequently badger him” to see him drugs, Merritts noted in the charges.

“Just take me to jail,” Patterson, who is on parole for a previous drug conviction, told police, according to the charges. Court records show Patterson is serving five years’ probation after pleading guilty to felony drug delivery in 2016 and he has an extensive criminal history dating back 22 years that includes a three- to seven-year state prison sentence for burglary in 2007.

Along with the heroin from Patterson’s home, police allegedly found syringes, a crack pipe, video surveillance equipment, ink stamps for stamping heroin packets and a blue packet of suspected heroin stamped “OD.”

Police note it was blue packet that Keller said Bryant was holding when he made the comment about the amount not seeming correct and when cops searched Bryant and Keller’s apartment, officers allegedly found a blue packet of heroin stamped “OD.”

Police pointed out that Keller told investigators she didn’t know what happened to the remaining heroin from the bundle she bought and that she suggested Patterson had hid it. Police said the remaining heroin was found in Keller’s purse when officers searched her apartment.

Patterson, who had $200 in cash, a snorting straw, grinder and marijuana pipe in his pocket when he was arrested, allegedly told Keller not to cooperate with police and had tried to coach her as to what to say when the pair were first driven to the Altoona Police Department after Bryant’s death, according to a claim by Keller noted in the charges.

The cellphones belonging to Keller, Bryant and Patterson were placed into evidence, and Keller’s mother voluntarily gave police her cellphone so it could be analyzed, police said.

Blair County First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks thanked the coroner’s office and Altoona police for their hard work in the investigation Sunday.

“The case highlights the dangers of drug trafficking and use and the fact these are not victimless crimes,” Weeks said. “We have, unfortunately, seen a recent increase in fatal drug overdoses in Blair County.”

Patterson and Keller were both arraigned by video conference Monday morning by Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller. Both are charged with felony counts of drug delivery resulting in death, conspiracy to deliver heroin, delivery of heroin and criminal use of a communication facility along with misdemeanor charges of tampering with evidence, recklessly endangering another person and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bail was set for Patterson at $500,000 cash and Keller’s bail is $200,000 cash. Both remain in Blair County Prison with preliminary hearings scheduled for Nov. 27.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.

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