Police said 27-year-old Lindsay Newkirk told them she had done it before – shot a small amount of heroin into her own arm, then shot some into her father’s.
That’s precisely what she said she did on a Friday in February at a motel in Columbus, Ohio. She said she passed out and, when she woke up, her father was unresponsive, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Her father, 55-year-old Leonard Newkirk, was dead.
“Obviously, it was not an intentional act,” Thomas Lininger, Newkirk’s attorney, said about her father’s overdose death, according to the newspaper.
Newkirk pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison, according to the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.
“It can’t be any worse than what you suffered in the loss of your father,” Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Kimberly Cocroft told Newkirk during her sentencing hearing, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Newkirk told authorities that she and her father were both addicted to heroin, according to NBC affiliate WCMH.
Synthetic opioids, including heroin and its deadlier cousin, fentanyl, are the main drivers of overdose deaths across the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heroin-related overdose deaths have increased substantially since 2010, with nearly 13,000 deaths in 2015, according to the CDC. In Ohio, 1,444 people died last year – a nearly 20-percent increase from 2014, according to the data.
“By last count there were over 400 drug overdose deaths in Franklin County in the last year in a half,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien recently said, according to WCMH.
Speaking about Newkirk, O’Brien said that in the past year, “we’ve indicted seven to eight of these kinds of cases.”
“If we can prove it, we are going to charge you with manslaughter,” he said, according to the local news station.
In 2015, opioid deaths in general continued to climb, with more than 33,000 fatalities across the country – the highest figure in recent history, according to data released by the CDC.
“The epidemic of deaths involving opioids continues to worsen,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “Prescription opioid misuse and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are intertwined and deeply troubling problems.”
Newkirk was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and corrupting another with drugs, according to court records.
“This daughter prepared and injected heroin into her father’s arm which caused his death,” O’Brien said in a statement at the time.
Newkirk pleaded guilty of involuntary manslaughter and prosecutors dismissed the corruption charge, according to the prosecutor’s office. Her three-year term will include 181 days of time served, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
“What I don’t want to read is your obituary in the Columbus Dispatch,” Cocroft told Newkirk this week in court, according to the Dispatch.
Lininger, Newkirk’s lawyer, said he was not permitted to comment on the case.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Lindsey Bever