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Treatment urged for man charged in drug overdose death

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The sister of Joshua Blowers, a Tyrone man who died of a fatal drug overdose in 2017, asked a Blair County judge on Monday for Kyler Johnson’s sentence to include treatment.

“He’s not some random drug dealer,” Heather Johnson said of Kyler Johnson, her husband’s half-brother who was one of a five-person chain supplying the heroin-laced fentanyl that caused her brother’s death. “My desire is to see him get the help he needs.”

Kyler Johnson, 27, also of Tyrone and currently an inmate at the Blair County Prison, was scheduled Monday to be sentenced in Blair County Court. In June, Kyler Johnson rendered guilty pleas to three offenses: drug delivery resulting in death, delivery or possession with intent to deliver and criminal conspiracy to deliver or possession with intent to deliver.

Instead of imposing a sentence Monday, Judge Timothy M. Sullivan put Johnson’s sentencing on hold, pending an assessment for entry into a county or state-supervised drug treatment program. In exchange for guilty pleas Johnson rendered in June, prosecutors said they would propose that the judge consider a minimum sentence of county Drug Court to a maximum sentence of 2.5 to five years in a state prison that could include a state drug treatment program.

A pre-sentence investigation, prepared for Monday’s sentencing, did not include a sentence recommendation, District Attorney Pete Weeks told Sullivan.

Defense attorney Thomas Hooper, on behalf of Kyler Johnson, agreed to keep the sentence on hold, so his client’s eligibility for a court-supervised drug treatment program could be assessed.

In June, when Johnson entered his guilty pleas, Hooper acknowledged that his client was looking for another facility to continue treatment. At that time, Kyler Johnson was residing at Cove Forge Behavior Health in Woodbury Township.

Sullivan, who presides over the county’s Drug Court, said further assessment is needed to determine if Kyler Johnson is a candidate for the county’s Drug Court or for the state’s drug treatment program.

If admitted to the county Drug Court, Kyler Johnson could avoid further incarceration, but only if he adheres to the rules that can require drug testing as much as three to five times a week. Those who fail to comply are subject to resentencing, and in Kyler’s case, Sullivan said the standard range minimum sentence is five years.

“So if he violates (the rules), he’ll be in a worse position than he is in today,” Sullivan said.

“I understand, your honor,” Kyler Johnson responded.

Heather Johnson’s daughter, Haylee Blowers, 19, told the judge she didn’t think her Uncle Josh would want Kyler Johnson to be in jail. She also said that she herself doesn’t want to see him “go periods of time without being able to see his kids.”

“I forgive Kyler,” she said.

Responding police and ambulance crews found Blowers dead on May 31, 2017, at Kyler Johnson’s apartment on the 1300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.

In November 2017, Tyrone and Altoona police, with assistance from the state attorney general’s office, identified and charged four people, including Kyler Johnson, in a chain of heroin sales leading to Blowers’ death.

Police identified Shariff Lucas of Altoona as the alleged supplier of the fentanyl-laced heroin who sold to Angela Miles of Tyrone, who sold to Robert Noel of Altoona, who sold to Kyler Johnson of Tyrone who sold to Blowers. Miles and Noel are currently serving five-to-15 year prison sentences.

Criminal charges filed against Lucas are still pending and his case is scheduled to be addressed in November, Weeks said Monday.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay

Stephens is at 946-7456.

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