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Pa. woman enters plea agreement in heroin death

October 21, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

HARRISBURG, PA. - A Franklin County woman will spend eight years in prison for her role in the heroin overdose death of a Chambersburg, Pa., teenager under the terms of a plea agreement entered Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Heather Lee, 20, formerly of 21 W. Main St., Fayetteville, Pa., is to be sentenced Feb. 14, 2005, on two counts of unlawful use of a telephone to commit a felony, according to U.S. Assistant Attorney William A. Behe. The guilty plea was accepted by Judge Yvette Kane, who ordered a presentence report be prepared before sentencing.

Lee and James Snyder, 26, of 9 Larch Drive, Shippensburg, Pa., were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2003 in the overdose death of Jennifer Renee Robinson, 16, who died Feb. 20, 2003, of heroin toxicity. Both were charged at the time with unlawful distribution of heroin and unlawful distribution of heroin resulting in the death of Robinson.

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The first charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to Behe. The second carries a sentence of 20 years to life on conviction, Behe said.

The indictments alleged Snyder and Lee distributed heroin between December 2002 and Feb. 20, 2003, Behe said earlier this year.

In court, Behe said Robinson left her home at about 6:45 p.m. on the day of her death and returned about an hour later.

She was later found unconscious in her house by a family member, he said.

During the investigation, Pennsylvania State Police looked into Robinson's cell phone records and a list of names and phone numbers she kept, Behe said.

"Miss Lee was known to a Franklin County Drug Task Force officer as a user of heroin," Behe told Kane.

Questioned the next day, Lee denied involvement in Robinson's death. She later admitted "she had been the person who sold the two blue-capped vials of heroin to Jennifer," Behe said.

Kane asked Lee if there was anything in the allegations she wanted to correct.

"No," said Lee.

After the hearing, Behe said Robinson and Lee set up the deal over the telephone and met in the parking lot of a Chambersburg restaurant where Robinson gave Lee $50 for the heroin. Lee then allegedly bought the heroin from Snyder, came back and gave the vials to Robinson.

Snyder recently hired a new attorney and his trial is scheduled for Jan. 3, Behe said. He could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted of distributing the heroin that killed Robinson, Behe said.

"To me, it will never be final, as far as them getting their punishment," Cindy Robinson, Jennifer's mother, said after the hearing.

"As a Christian, I guess you're supposed to be able to forgive and I think it's going to take a lot of years for me to be able to do that," she said.

"I surely thought I would never have something like this occur," she said.

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