Charge dropped in fatal overdose

November 15, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A murder charge against a Harpers Ferry, W.Va., man who allegedly injected heroin into the arm of a man found dead in a Charles Town motel room has been dropped to allow a federal case against the man to proceed, a prosecutor said.

Richard Allen Ashbaugh, 38, originally was charged with murder after Jonathan Parks, 26, of Brunswick, Md., was found lying facedown between two beds in a room at the Towne House Motor Lodge on East Washington Street.

Ashbaugh also was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sept. 20 in Martinsburg, W.Va.

The state murder charge was dropped because it would not be an effective use of state resources to try Ashbaugh in local courts as well, said Jefferson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gina Groh.


"Nothing's lost," Groh said.

Jefferson County Magistrate William Senseney agreed last week to drop the state murder charge against Ashbaugh, Groh said.

In count one of the federal indictment, Ashbaugh, and Claire Dunleavy of 600 Cliff St., Harpers Ferry, allegedly distributed heroin on Sept. 1 to a person, resulting in that person's death, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Johnston.

Count two of the indictment alleges Ashbaugh and Dunleavy, aided and abetted by each other, traveled in interstate commerce from Charles Town to Baltimore and back with the intent to carry on a business enterprise involving heroin, the press release said.

Trial in the case is scheduled for Dec. 19 in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg.

If convicted, Ashbaugh and Dunleavy face a maximum of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of $1 million on count one of the indictment and a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on count two, Johnston said.

According to witnesses' statements, Parks and his girlfriend asked Ashbaugh to obtain heroin for them. After receiving $60, Ashbaugh went to Baltimore and bought heroin from an unknown source, records state. He returned to the motel room with four $15 capsules of heroin, records state.

Half of a capsule of heroin was injected into Parks' arm, and another half was injected after Parks said the first shot produced no effect, police said.

Parks then "nodded-off" and rested facedown between the beds, said Lt. Steve Harris of the Charles Town Police Department.

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