Ashtabula woman sentenced in fatal overdose case

Heather Harless

JEFFERSON — An Ashtabula woman received a six year prison sentence Friday in a fatal overdose case.

Heather L. Harless, 37, of Ashtabula, was sentenced by Judge Marianne Sezon to six years in prison on one first degree felony count of involuntary manslaughter and one fourth degree felony county of aggravated trafficking in drugs.

Harless had faced three first-degree felony counts of involuntary manslaughter, one second-degree felony count of corrupting another with drugs, two fourth-degree felony counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs and one fifth-degree felony count of trafficking in heroin. 

As part of a plea deal, the remaining charges in the indictment were dismissed by the prosecutor's office and the parties agreed to a six-year prison sentence. Harless had pleaded guilty on July 12.

The conviction stems from the drug overdose death of Keri A. Vickery on June 1, 2018 in Harpersfield Township, according to County Prosecutor Nicholas Iarocci.

"Harless personally sold and distributed Fentanyl to Ms. Vickery which caused Vickery’s death," Iarocci wrote in a press release. "Toxicology results revealed a lethal amount of fentanyl in Ms. Vickery’s blood at the time of her death, and the Ashtabula County Coroner ruled the cause of death as a Fentanyl overdose and classified the death as a homicide."

Vickery was transported to UH Geneva Medical Center, where she died later that day, according to the indictment. The Ashtabula County Sheriff's Department investigated the overdose death and referred the matter to the Heroin Overdose Task Force.

"I would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the family of Ms. Vickery, and our appreciation to the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department and the Ashtabula County Heroin Overdose Task Force for their dedicated and commendable work in investigating this case," Iarocci said.

The conviction of Harless is a continuation of efforts by county officials to aggressively prosecute those who supply drugs linked to fatal overdoses.

The county prosecutor's office has pursued involuntary manslaughter charges in more than a dozen cases and counting, a strategy county officials have said is aimed at deterring drug transactions and stemming the tide of overdose deaths.

Recommended for you