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W.Va. man faces prison in heroin overdose case

January 05, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 38-year-old Harpers Ferry, W.Va., man faces 20 years to life in prison following his guilty plea Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court in connection with a heroin-related death at the Towne House Motor Lodge in Charles Town, W.Va., last September.

Richard Allen Ashbaugh pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate David Joel to one count of aiding and abetting in distributing heroin resulting in death.

Ashbaugh also faces a fine up to $1 million, Joel said.

Joel said a presentence report will be conducted and the sentencing will be March 20 at 10:30 a.m.

Ashbaugh's plea is in connection with the death of Jonathan Parks, 26, of Brunswick, Md. Parks was found Sept. 1, 2005, facedown between two beds in a room at the Towne House Motor Lodge on East Washington Street.

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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.

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.

Another defendant, Claire Dunleavy, 600 Cliff St., Harpers Ferry, pleaded guilty Dec. 21, 2005, to one count of an indictment charging her with aiding and abetting in the interstate travel from Charles Town, W.Va., to Baltimore and back with the intent to carry on a business enterprise involving heroin, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Dunleavy has not been sentenced.

Ashbaugh originally was charged with murder in the case and was indicted by a federal grand jury Sept. 20, 2005, in Martinsburg.

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

Ashbaugh answered a number of questions from Joel as he was entering his plea Wednesday. Ashbaugh, who is being held without bail, told Joel he didn't make it past 11th grade and once was treated for an addiction.

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