By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A local man will serve seven years in prison after administering heroin to a man who died as a result of a drug overdose almost two years ago.
Jeffery Prater, 50, Warsaw, was charged in two separate criminal cases. He was charged with maintaining a common nuisance, a level 6 felony; and dealing in a narcotic drug, a level 5 felony. Dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death, a level 1 felony; and two narcotic drug possession charges, both level 6 felonies, were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
Prater was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court 1.
On June 12, 2018, a Silver Lake Police officer responded to a report of a drug overdose at an unspecified residence. Upon arrival, the officer saw medical technicians performing CPR on Adam Arnett, 56, Akron. Two occupants of the residence were present during the overdose, including Prater. CPR was performed for about 30 minutes before Arnett was pronounced dead.
Kosciusko County Coroner Tony Ciriello arrived and obtained blood samples from Arnett. The samples were sent to AXIS forensic toxicology for examination. Ciriello learned that Arnett died from an overdose of Citalopram, morphine and Alprazolam.
According to court documents, morphine therapeutic levels should be between 10 and 80 nanograms per milliliter; and therapeutic levels for Citalopram are between 10 to 120 nanograms per milliliter. According to the toxicology report, the morphine and Citalopram levels in Arnett’s body were at 193 and 363 nanograms per milliliter, respectively.
On June 28, 2018, an officer spoke with a person who was at Prater’s residence at the time of the overdose. The person witnessed Prater prepare a syringe with heroin. Before the injection took place, Arnett admitted to taking several Xanax. The person told Prater not to inject Arnett because he thought it may cause an adverse reaction. After Prater injected the drug, Arnett fell asleep and suddenly stopped breathing. Prater then began to clean the residence of any drug use while a woman at the scene performed CPR.
On Dec. 21, 2018, NET 43 officers made a controlled purchase of heroin from Prater. Officers provided Prater with documented task force funds in exchange for 0.3 grams of heroin.
During sentencing, Maria Arnett, Adam’s mother, gave an emotional testimony about her son. Prater also became emotional during Maria’s testimony.
“It’s rough, it’s hard,” said Maria. “He was a good boy. We called him Danny. If I needed help, he was always there. I love all my children and I feel my life is over. When you truly love God, you have to pray for the ones who harm and hurt. You took my love. It hurts so much. And no matter what happens, it’s not gonna bring him back.”
In his statement to the court, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz described the June 12, 2018, incident, as a “heroin roulette” involving Prater, Arnett and three other individuals.
“Adam is not here today to tell us who caused his death,” said Voelz. “Two of the others told police they watched Jeffery Prater inject heroin into Adam Arnett’s arm. These two witnesses are now dead from drug overdoses — and their testimony died with them. Of the five people abusing drugs at Jeffery Prater’s table that day, three are dead and one is going to prison — but not for nearly as long as he deserves. Drug abuse is not a victimless crime.”
Defense Attorney Ben Nordmann acknowledged the pain and suffering of the Arnett family and said he was grateful to hear Maria’s statements. However, Nordmann said Prater was not guilty of causing Arnett’s death, saying the coroner could not rule on the death being either accidental or intentional.
“He pled guilty to dealing drugs and maintaining a common nuisance,” said Nordmann. “He even offered to make restitution to the Arnett family. But his substance abuse history is bad, it’s deep and it’s long-lasting. The question is ‘Do we lock up addicts or treat addicts?'”
Nordmann also mentioned Prater’s support system, noting several of Prater’s family members being present in the courtroom.
“I would do anything to bring him back,” said Prater regarding Adam Arnett. “He’s in my dreams every day. I am so sorry.”
For maintaining a common nuisance, Judge David Cates sentenced Prater to two years in the Indiana Department of Correction. For dealing in a narcotic drug, Prater will serve five years in IDoC. Both sentences will be served consecutively. Prater must also pay $9,023.90 in restitution for the Arnett family’s funeral expenses.
“You chose drugs over your family,” said Cates. “This is your fault.”