Friends tell of overdose

WARREN – Friends of drug overdose victim Christine M. Sheesley told a jury Tuesday that she was eager to shoot up heroin on her 17th birthday and even used $50 of her birthday money to buy the drugs that killed her.

Tyler Scott Stevens, 20, described himself as the ”middle man” who arranged to get the heroin, telling how he shot up first before rinsing off the needle and then injecting Christine. He said the two had used heroin at least twice before the deadly dosage on April 7, 2012.

”I passed out and woke up about an hour later. She (Christine) was in the chair sleeping. We tried to wake her up throughout the night,” said Stevens, who said he met Christine on Facebook.

Stevens faces involuntary manslaughter charges in Christine’s death. He has pleaded guilty to the charge along with other drug charges and agreed in a plea deal to serve five years behind bars after truthfully testifying against James Patterson, 28, of Youngstown, who supplied the heroin, personally bringing it to the Girard apartment where Stevens lived with his father.

Stevens referred to Patterson by his street name ”Fresh” and referred to the heroin by the code name ”boy.”

He said he had dropped out of school at age 15 when he lived in Indiana and had worked with his father on roofing jobs. He said he experimented with heroin since 2009.

But Stevens, who was dressed in orange jail coveralls and wearing handcuffs, testified that he never saw anyone unable to awaken after getting high.

”I was punching myself, screaming and hitting the walls. I shook her and threw water on her,” Stevens said, describing how he and Christine’s best friend, Alexis Huegel, moved the girl around, propping her up on the floor and later on a bed in the apartment.

Huegel said she and a third friend who stopped by Stevens’ apartment used a stopwatch on a cell phone to check Christine’s pulse, which was beating faster than normal. She said they placed a cold towel on her forehead.

”I heard her crying, but it was muffled. Then there was gurgling,” Huegel said, assuring that her friend was still alive.

Huegel and Stevens said Fresh stopped by later in the evening after Stevens called him. And finally, Stevens’ father, William, came home, both saying that the girl would be OK if she rested and then had a cold shower.

By the next morning, Christine was unresponsive and Stevens called police on the advice of his father who had left for work. Stevens and Huegel both admitted not revealing all that they knew at first when talking to police.

”At first I didn’t want to admit my best friends had died,” said Huegel, who actually left Stevens’ apartment when she learned they would be injecting the heroin and after she saw Patterson hand over a square packet of white-yellowish powder. ”I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble.”

Stevens admitted that he didn’t want to tell police about the heroin and didn’t want to get himself in trouble at first. He said he threw his cell phone in a lake in Mill Creek Park so police wouldn’t learn who had called that night.

Patterson, meanwhile, faces up to 40 years in prison on the same involuntary manslaughter charge and several drug charges. He turned down a plea deal last week that called for a 10-year sentence.

Tuesday afternoon’s testimony was highlighted by Girard Patrolman John Freeman, who set up a ”buy-bust” arrest of Patterson at a car wash on Trumbull Avenue on May 24, more than a month after the death.

Assistant county prosecutor Charles Morrow will rest his case today. The defense then can present its case to the six-man, six-woman jury in Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice’s courtroom.

Morrow has insisted that Patterson was ”the one who got the ball rolling,” leading to Christine’s death.