Heroin suspect back to jail; judge refuses to lower bail
CATAWISSA - A judge refused Thursday to lower bail for Bryant Anthony Leiby, who's charged in connection with the heroin overdose of an Elysburg woman, agreeing with the arresting officer that the defendant needs to stay "clean" by staying in jail.
"I don't want to see him suffer a relapse," officer Nicholas Thorpe said, helping convince Magisterial District Judge Craig Long to keep bail at $35,000 cash.
Bail modification was requested as part of Leiby's appearance in court for a preliminary hearing.
He waived his right to the hearing and was recommitted to Columbia County Prison in Bloomsburg.
Leiby, 25, of 814 Mount Zion Drive, Danville, talked to his father, Martin Leiby, of Danville, before and after the hearing and hugged him before being escorted from the courtroom. He declined comment to the media.
Leiby is one of two men charged in connection with the death of Erika Smith, 34, of 160 Horvath Drive. Police said she overdosed from heroin Nov. 20 and died four days later at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.
After consultation with his attorney, Bill Kreisher, of Bloomsburg, Leiby waived felony charges of delivering 15 packets of heroin and criminal use of a communication facility to Columbia County Court, where he can plead guilty or no contest, or take the case to trial.
Leiby and Gregory Shepard, 26, of 51 Winding Way, Catawissa, are charged by Locust Township police in the case. The overdose occurred at Shepard's residence, police said.
Shepard is charged by Locust Township Police Chief Allen Breach with felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and misdemeanors of recklessly endangering another person, possession of a controlled substance and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Shepard was jailed at Columbia County Prison in Bloomsburg on $50,000 cash bail after his arraignment Nov. 21. His parents later posted property bail, allowing him to be released Nov. 26.
Shepard, who is being defended by attorney Gregory Moro, of Bloomsburg, was initially scheduled for a hearing this week before Long, but it has been continued at Moro's request until 10:30 a.m. Jan. 10.
Attorney: No flight risk
Kreisher reportedly had asked for percentage bail or to have Leiby released on his own recognizance, arguing that he isn't a flight risk.
Kreisher said Leiby worked as a systems analyst until June at Geisinger and later was employed by Mohawk Doors near Northumberland. He said Leiby agreed to undergo random drug testing and live with his father if he was released from prison.
Long, however, refused to make any changes.
Meanwhile, Thorpe said police are continuing their investigation into the overdose death to determine if additional charges will be filed.
"We are awaiting toxicology tests and still going through hundreds of pages involved with search warrants," he said.
Montour County Coroner Scott Lynn, who pronounced Smith dead at 7:40 p.m. Nov. 24 in the intensive care unit, previously said autopsy results typically take between eight and 12 weeks.
The coroner said toxicology and other testing should confirm a definitive cause and manner of death.
Pennsylvania recently adopted the "Drug Delivery Resulting in Death" statute, which makes it a first-degree felony to provide drugs to someone who dies as a result. The crime carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Charges against Leiby and Shephard were filed after the overdose incident but prior to Smith's death.
Found Nov. 20
According to criminal complaints, police were dispatched to Shepard's home at approximately 10:33 p.m. Nov. 20 and found Smith unresponsive. Thorpe performed CPR until an ambulance crew arrived.
Shepard told police she had "shot up" with one bag of heroin approximately three hours before and Shepard called 911 after watching over her and becoming concerned.
Shepard said he made arrangements with Leiby to deliver heroin to him and Smith. Leiby purchased 20 bags for $300, given to him by Shepard. After Leiby made the delivery, the three used the drugs between 2 and 4 p.m. Nov. 20, police said.
After Smith passed out, the two men at first thought she was simply "high," Shepard said.
Shepard told police Leiby eventually left because he didn't want to be involved. Shepard said he became increasingly worried.
He told police he called and texted a friend about Smith's condition, and was told to put her on her side so she could breathe better. While Shepard got more anxious, he allegedly used four more bags of heroin, then saw Smith's lips change from pink to blue. He then told his mother about her condition and called 911.
While searching Shepard's bedroom, police uncovered 69 empty wax paper packets used to package heroin, eight needles, a bong and other drug paraphernalia. Officers also found green vegetable material believed to be synthetic marijuana.
Leiby told police he and Shepard injected several bags of heroin before he decided to leave around 4 p.m. He said Smith was passed out when he left. Leiby said he advised Shepard to keep watching Smith and take her to the emergency room if she stopped breathing.