WARSAW — Zakkary R. Pifer was sentenced this morning, Dec. 19, for the Sept. 2015 involuntary manslaughter of Tyler S. Boocher, Leesburg.
Pifer, 26, Winona Lake, was sentenced on charges of possession of a narcotic drug, a level 4, and involuntary manslaughter, a level 5 felony, stemming from his Feb. 18 arrest and possession of a syringe, a level 6 felony, from his Jan. 21 arrest.
Court documents filed on Feb. 12, state on Sept. 26, 2015, Winona Lake Police Officer responded to a call of an unresponsive male on the back deck of a Robson Road residence. When he arrived he found a male, later identified as Tyler Boocher, lying on his back with no pulse and unresponsive. Officers and medics performed CPR and obtained a pulse.
Boocher was transported to Lutheran Hospital and given Narcan, used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. On Sept. 29, Boocher died from morphine toxicity — a heroin overdose. Boocher had tested positive for opiates.
In Nov. 13, 2015, officers spoke to an individual who advised that they had received a call from Pifer on Sept. 26 saying a friend had just died in his arms. The individual went on to say that Pifer came to his home in late October and stated he had given Boocher a shot of heroin and shortly after Boocher began having trouble breathing. The individual stated that Pifer told him he held Boocher on his shoulder until he quit breathing. This occurred at Pifer’s grandmother’s home. At this time Pifer moved Boocher to a chair in the living and waited for his grandmother. Once she arrived, the two moved Boocher to the back porch and Pifer left as he was afraid of getting in trouble.
Giving police consent to search her residence, officers found, in a bedroom occupied by Pifer, hundreds of new and used syringes, a plastic pipe with a burnt residue, water bottle marijuana pipe, grinder, two drinking straws with white residue, a bag containing a white powdery substance, digital scales, medical tourniquet, foil boat with residue, metal tube with burnt residue and a burnt metal spoon with white residue. The white powdery substance was field tested, testing positive for heroin, and weighed 13.9 grams.
During the investigation it was found from the time Pifer injected Boocher with heroin, called his grandmother, sat with Boocher after she arrived and then placed him on the porch, 30-40 minutes minimum elapsed without calling for medical attention.
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Hampton presented a video victim impact statement this morning, Dec. 19, by Boocher’s mother Kim McFarlan, Klamath Falls, Ore. She stated that her son had turned to drugs to fill a void left by a distant relationship with his father. “I preferred when he was in jail,” McFarlan stated, saying she knew her son was safe and off the streets. “My worst fear came true. Tyler was found in someone’s backyard dead from an overdose.” McFarlan also gave a statement from Boocher’s younger sister, “Zakk, I forgive you. Please don’t do drugs anymore.”
Pifer became teary-eyed when McFarlan asked him to seek help for the sake of his young son and to set a good example and be a loving father. She asked the judge to add a condition to Pifer’s probation to seek help for his drug abuse, and for Pifer to be ordered to pay restitution for funeral expenses. She ended by telling Pifer, “I’m praying for you.”
Christopher D. Kehler representing Pifer told the court that Pifer has been clean since Jan. 12. It was advised that Pifer was offered a drug screen before the sentencing but denied it because he had smoked marijuana the night of Dec. 18 and felt he would fail the screening. Kehler advised the court that Pifer had consumed marijuana because he had become nervous. It was implied that he had been drug screened prior to Dec. 12 for his current employment and passed.
Pifer stated to the court that he was “deeply remorseful” for what happened to Boocher. “I’m ready and want to change my life..I’m so ready to start a new life and not squander any opportunities given to me.”
“The punishment you’ve imposed on yourself is worse than what the courts can give you,” Judge Reed said to Pifer of Boocher’s death, acknowledging that Pifer and Boocher were friends. “Tyler could have been you.”
Reed continued that the fact of the matter remains that Boocher is dead and the death could have been avoided if Pifer had called 911 sooner.
For possession of a syringe, a level 6 felony, Pifer was sentenced to one year in the Department of Corrections and ordered to pay a $100 fee and a minimum of $200 in drug and addiction fees. Pifer was given 6 days good time credit.
For possession of a narcotic, a level 4 felony, and involuntary manslaughter, a level 5 felony, Pifer was sentenced to 9 and 3 years at the DOC, respectively, to be served concurrent but consecutive to his previous sentence. He was ordered to pay an additional $100 fee and an additional minimum of $200 on drug and addiction fees. Pifer was given 219 days credit for his time served.
The judge went on to suspend 3 years from Pifer’s possession of a narcotic sentence, to be served on probation.
Pifer was ordered to partake in a substance abuse evaluation and to participate in the DOC therapeutic community.
Furthermore, Pifer was ordered to pay $2,235.20 in funeral expense restitution. Pifer stated, “I will pay it. I want to pay it.”