AUBURN — A local woman was sentenced Tuesday to serve nine months of a three-year sentence in jail for giving a friend heroin that resulted in his overdose, then lying about it.
Leea Dawn Murphy, 29, of 49 School St. was convicted at trial last month of five counts related to the incident, including unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs, a Class C felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The remaining charges are misdemeanors.
Assistant Attorney General Johanna Gauvreau was seeking a sentence of four years, with all but 18 months suspended; defense attorney Jeffrey Dolley asked the judge for a three-year sentence for his client, with all of that time suspended.
Murphy, who had been free on bail after her trial, was taken into custody Tuesday at Androscoggin County Superior Court and booked into Androscoggin County Jail, where she will await the expected appeal of her conviction unless or until a nongovernmental agency agrees to supervise her release. A judge stayed execution of her nine-month sentence pending the appeal. Dolley said his client would certainly file an appeal of her conviction.
Gauvreau said Murphy intentionally misled first responders in Central Maine Medical Center’s parking lot about the medical condition of the man who had overdosed. Murphy told them he was having a diabetic reaction even though she knew he had overdosed on heroin. When the medical team administered NARCAN, an opioid antidote, as a last resort, the man was revived.
An officer at the scene said in an affidavit that Murphy was uncooperative and, at one point, spilled the contents of her purse on the ground. Included among the contents were many used and new hypodermic needles.
That officer, Cpl. Matthew Vierling, testified Tuesday that Murphy was “cold” and “callous” at the scene where her friend was unresponsive to attempts to revive him. She showed “zero remorse” and was “extremely inhumane,” he said.
Gauvreau said Murphy had shown no signs of remorse for her actions since that time and hadn’t made an effort to overcome her own drug addiction until recently.
Dolley called to the witness stand on Tuesday a licensed drug and alcohol counselor who met twice with Murphy. Stephanie Beck said the defendant lacked coping skills that gave the appearance of lack of feeling. Murphy’s only coping mechanism was to turn to drugs, she said. She was introduced to drugs at age 10, when she was prescribed opiates after her teeth were pulled and to ease the pain from a tail-bone injury, and began to abuse drugs in her early teens, Beck said. She came from a dysfunctional and broken home and had only an eighth-grade education. She has lost custody of all four of her children.
Beck said Murphy would have a better chance of succeeding in a long-term drug facility rather than in prison, even though the Maine Correctional Center in Windham has a drug rehabilitation program for women. Murphy wouldn’t get the individual attention she requires in prison, Beck said.
Nicholas Gallant, father of three of Murphy’s children, said, “She definitely needs treatment.”
Murphy told the court, “I’m sorry for putting everybody through this trouble.” She said she does have emotions, “deep down inside.”
Judge Richard Mulhern decided Murphy should serve nine months in jail, rather than in prison, followed by two years of probation. Sentences on the related misdemeanors are to be served at the same time as the felony.
Conditions of her release are to include no possession of alcohol and drugs, subject to random search and testing. Murphy must be treated for substance abuse and can have no contact with the man who overdosed on the drugs she gave him, Mulhern said.
“I do hope the defendant gets the treatment she needs,” he said.
Leea Murphy appeared Tuesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn at her sentencing on drug charges. Her attorney, Jeffrey Dolley, is at right.