Carroll Co. girl gets probation in heroin death of schoolmate She'll testify in trial of teen charged with supplying drug to boy

June 30, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A 17-year-old Westminster High School student, convicted last month of helping to supply heroin to a 15-year-old schoolmate who died of an overdose, was placed on indefinite electronic home monitoring yesterday and ordered to perform 350 hours of community service.

The girl, who was charged as a juvenile and is not being identified because of her age, has agreed to testify against 16-year-old Kristopher Olenginski, who is charged as an adult in the January death of Liam O'Hara, prosecutors said.

Saying he was seeing a different young woman from the one who stood before him at trial last month, Peter M. Tabatsko, juvenile master for Carroll County, sentenced the girl to an unspecified detention center for women, but suspended the term in favor of probation.

"You can do the community and young children a great service by getting the word out about drugs, that the only way to go is not to go," Tabatsko said.

The girl, who spent the past month in detention at Thomas Waxter Children's Center in Laurel awaiting sentencing, appeared remorseful and sobered.

"My time at Waxter gave me a lot of time to think about my life, the things that I have and the things that I have to live for," she said amid sobs. "I'm sorry that Liam will never have this chance."

Granting probation was acceptable to the O'Hara family, said prosecutor David P. Daggett. The family did not attend yesterday's disposition, but was aware that counselors from the state Department of Juvenile Justice would recommend no further incarceration, Daggett said.

Tabatsko found the girl guilty May 29 on four of nine charges: distribution of heroin, conspiracy to distribute heroin, possession of a controlled substance and reckless endangerment.

Finding lack of sufficient evidence, he dismissed charges of conspiracy to possess heroin, conspiracy to commit reckless endangerment, hindering a police investigation, conspiracy to obstruct justice and being an accessory after the fact.

By incarcerating her, Tabatsko prevented her from receiving her diploma during graduation at Westminster High School.

Daggett said the girl's initial statements to police were consistent with what she agreed to testify at Olenginski's trial, scheduled Sept. 21. Juvenile authorities also charged a third teen-ager in O'Hara's death. The disposition of that case is not known and juvenile court records are sealed.

In trial testimony and police reports, the girl said she rode with Olenginski to Baltimore, where heroin was purchased.

She said that later, back in Westminster and with the two co-defendants present, the heroin, which had cost $15, was sold to O'Hara for $30. The 15-year-old sophomore was found dead in his bed the next morning.

The teen-ager's death and the quick return of two of the three fTC defendants to the classroom touched off a furor among concerned parents and students and has led to town meetings, anti-drug seminars and a crackdown by state and local police to stem the spread of heroin in Carroll County.

At the sentencing, the girl told Tabatsko that, even though she had no direct involvement in O'Hara's death, "My presence in the car was enough to have me punished."

Tearfully, she said, "At first, I didn't know how to accept that. I pray to God that the O'Hara family can forgive me."

Daggett said the girl voluntarily wrote a letter of apology to the O'Haras.

Tabatsko said he had no doubt the girl was sorry about the tragic events surrounding O'Hara's death. "Hopefully, we can save others," he said. "Hopefully, we have saved you."

The girl interrupted, saying, "Thank you. Being at Waxter did save my life. I hope I can show many other people."

As conditions of probation, the girl must neither possess, use nor sell drugs, alcohol or drug paraphernalia.

She also must complete any counseling ordered by probation officials.

Pub Date: 6/30/98

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