WARREN - A jury spent six to seven hours in deliberations over two days before finding a Youngstown man guilty of reckless homicide in a teen's overdose death
James Patterson, 28, also known as ''Fresh,'' showed little to no emotion as a lengthy verdict sheet was read Thursday by Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Rice. Patterson also was found guilty on a series of drug charges.
Patterson faces a maximum of more than 20 years in prison when Rice sentences him Thursday morning.
A deputy shackles James Patterson of Youngs-town on Thursday afternoon after he was found guilty of reckless homicide in the overdose death of a Girard teen.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Jurors found Patterson not guilty of the more serious charge of involuntary manslaughter - a first-degree felony - and instead opted for the less serious charge of reckless homicide, a third-degree felony.
''I don't know why they even charged me. Stevens did everything. He pleaded guilty to this. It's crazy,'' Patterson said while being led from the courtroom in shackles.
Patterson was referring to 20-year-old Tyler Stevens, who arranged to buy $50 worth of heroin from Patterson and then injected the drug with his Facebook friend Christine Sheesley, who was celebrating her 17th birthday that day, April 6, 2012, at Steven's Park Avenue apartment.
Sheesley passed out and became unresponsive for most of the night. Although she was breathing for hours, she was found dead the next morning when police were finally called by Stevens, who held off calling authorities at first since several people advised him that the girl would recover with a little rest or perhaps a cold shower.
Stevens has already pleaded guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter along with other counts, and expects to face a recommended sentence of five years in prison after testifying against Patterson.
Patterson turned down a deal last week to serve 10 years.
Sheesley's mother, Judy Sheesley, who watched the trial unfold throughout the week, missed the judge reading the verdict because no one informed her that the panel of six men and six women had reached a decision.
''I'm just glad it's over and glad he was found guilty,'' Sheesley said, explaining that she passed the verdict on to her husband, an over-the-road truck driver who was in Missouri.
Patterson's attorney, James Lanzo, said he would have to discuss a possible appeal in the case with his client.
''We'll cross that bridge later,'' said Lanzo, adding that the finding of guilt on the lesser charge shaves about five years off any sentence.
Jurors also found Patterson not guilty to possession of cocaine when he was busted by Girard police at a Trumbull Avenue car wash about a month after the overdose. A confidential informant set up a buy, and officers said they found heroin packaged for sale inside Patterson's car. The buy-bust resulted in three charges for trafficking in heroin.
He was found guilty of corrupting another with drugs, once for supplying Stevens and Sheesley with the heroin and then during his arrest at the car wash because a juvenile was in his car.
Assistant county prosecutor Charles Morrow praised the work of Capt. John Norman, lead investigator in the case, as well as school resources officer Scott Strain and Patrolman John Freeman, who set up the bust at the car wash.