Tyrone man sentenced to drug court
HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Tyrone man who provided the fentanyl-laced heroin leading to his friend’s fatal overdose in 2017 is being directed into Blair County Drug Court as part of a sentence imposing eight years of probation.
Judge Timothy M. Sullivan, who presides over Drug Court, told Kyler M. Johnson, 27, on Tuesday that he will have a chance through the program to learn how to address triggers prompting his drug use.
Failure to comply, the judge said, will lead to resentencing.
“I do have remorse for what happened,” Johnson told Sullivan in court. He said he appreciated being directed into the county’s Drug Court.
Johnson was one of three people arrested after Joshua Blowers was found dead of an overdose on May 31, 2017, in his Tyrone apartment. Johnson, who summoned police after finding Blowers dead in the bathroom, admitted to providing Blowers with the heroin.
“But for the grace of God, it could have been (Johnson) on the floor,” defense attorney Thomas Hooper told Sullivan. “They were sharing from the same pot of dangerous drugs.”
A police investigation identified Shariff Lucas of Altoona as the alleged supplier of the fentanyl-laced heroin, who sold the substance to Angela Miles of Tyrone, who sold to Robert Noel of Altoona, who in turn sold to Johnson.
Miles and Noel are currently serving five- to 15-year prison sentences for their roles in Blowers’ death. Criminal charges against Lucas are still pending.
In June, Johnson rendered guilty pleas to drug delivery resulting in death, delivery or possession with intent to deliver and criminal conspiracy to deliver or possession with intent to deliver.
In exchange for the pleas, District Attorney Pete Weeks said he would recommend a minimum sentence of county Drug Court to a maximum sentence of 2.5 to five years in a state prison that would include drug treatment requirements.
In court Tuesday, Weeks proposed that the state prison drug treatment program might be the better option in light of Johnson’s failure to comply with court-imposed bail conditions and in light of prior drug treatment that didn’t keep him from relapsing.
Hooper acknowledged that his client has had some successful periods in avoiding drug use and has already spent 445 days in jail in connection with these charges. He described him as a promising client for the county’s Drug Court program.
When imposing the sentence, Sullivan said he gave a lot of weight to testimony offered in court previously by Blowers’ sister, Heather Johnson, who said she wanted to see Kyler Johnson get help for his drug addiction. She identified Kyler Johson as her husband’s half-brother.
Sullivan also recognized testimony by Heather Johnson’s daughter, Haylee Blowers, who said she didn’t want to see Kyler Johnson separated for long periods from his children.
Sullivan advised Johnson that in preparation for Drug Court, he will initially be directed to an inpatient drug treatment program, then released to a halfway house.
While attending Drug Court proceedings, convened every other week at the courthouse, Sullivan said Johnson will be tested twice a week for drug use and required to attend two self-help meetings every week.
“If he fails to comply, he will be scheduled for revocation and face significant state time,” the judge said.
Hooper said he was satisfied with the judge’s sentence.
“The state’s drug treatment program is still an option down the road,” Hooper said. “But this is a good first step before that.”
Weeks said he thought the judge came up with a sentence that gives Kyler Johnson one more chance to succeed or face a state prison sentence.
“I’d be pleased to see him do well and make his life a success,” Weeks said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.