HAGERSTOWN — A Smithsburg woman charged with administering a fatal drug overdose to her boyfriend last year entered an Alford plea to an involuntary manslaughter charge Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court.
Judge Daniel P. Dwyer sentenced Chasity Dawn Kline, 34, of 12804 Bikle Road, to 10 years in prison, with all of it suspended except for the 349 days she has served in the Washington County Detention Center since her arrest in April 2011.
Dwyer also ordered Kline to spend three years on supervised probation, abstain from drugs and alcohol, submit to random drug testing and take part in any treatment programs recommended by her probation officer.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt by a defendant, but an acknowledgment that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to gain a conviction.
“I believe this is a landmark case in the county,” Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael said after the plea hearing.
Michael said he could not recall any previous case in which a person accused of providing drugs to someone who died of an overdose was charged with and convicted of manslaughter.
Kline, a geriatric nursing assistant, was charged in the Feb. 3, 2011, death of Cody Lynn Delauter, 33, whose body was discovered by a relative in the living room of his Williamsport home. She initially was charged with manslaughter and two counts each of distributing narcotics and administering narcotics, according to court records.
Michael told Dwyer that Delauter had heroin, cocaine and Oxycodone in his system when he died — enough cocaine and heroin that either drug could have caused his death.
Delauter had been “speed-balling throughout the day” on Feb. 2, and Kline had admitted to friends to “injecting him with the mixture several times that day,” Michael said.
Delauter had prescriptions from a Rockville, Md., doctor for Oxycodone and Hydromorphone filled two days before his death, Michael said. He described the doctor’s practice as a “pill mill.”
One of the prescription bottles was empty and pills were missing from two others when Delauter’s body was discovered, Michael told Dwyer. Delauter had been loaned money to get the prescription and buy the drugs and apparently resold some of them, he said.
Delauter’s cellphone was found in the driveway. The last call made led Washington County Sheriff’s Office investigators to a friend who told them Delauter had called on Feb. 2 and said he was going to dinner with his girlfriend, Chastity, charging documents said.
Days after Delauter’s death, Kline contacted his family, saying she might be the beneficiary of his life-insurance policy, the documents said.
After Delauter’s memorial service, Kline told friends she had injected him with the combination of heroin and cocaine several times, the documents said.
“I apologize for being a drug addict,” Kline told Dwyer Tuesday.
The reason she asked about the life insurance was to cover Delauter’s funeral expenses, she said in court.
Dwyer told Kline that the amended count of involuntary manslaughter was different than manslaughter, because the death was the result of “gross negligence, whereas manslaughter is a voluntary killing.”
“You were Mr. Delauter’s friend. He was not somebody you wanted to do harm to,” Dwyer told her later.