For the first time since the opioid crisis swept into Loudoun, a drug supplier has been convicted in Circuit Court for causing an overdose death.
Before Judge Douglas L. Fleming Jr. on Tuesday afternoon, Heather Nicole Timbers pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, distribution of heroin and possession of heroin—each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The pleas came just seven days before the scheduled start of a four-day jury trial. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30.
According to evidence in the case, the 30-year-old Leesburg woman joined Dewitt Talmadge Black IV, a guitarist with the metal band Yesterday’s Saints who regularly rented hotel rooms to work on his music, at the Clarion Inn in Leesburg on Sept. 29, 2016. The two shared beer, liquor and Chinese food during the evening.
And then they shared something else.
Timbers told Leesburg Police investigators that around 11 p.m. she cut two lines of heroin from a bag she had purchased from a dealer in the hotel parking lot. She snorted one; Black snorted the other.
Police were called to the room at 8:13 the next morning. Black was dead on the hotel room floor.
Black’s was one of 41 reported drug deaths in Loudoun County during 2016—29 of those were linked to opioids, including heroin. But the case was made more tragic because Black, a 32-year-old Hamilton resident, was not a known drug user. In numerous police interviews of family members, friends, acquaintances and even Timbers, “no one had ever known Black to be a narcotics user of any sort,” according to the proffer of evidence presented to Judge Fleming during Tuesday’s hearing.
Timbers’ conviction is a rarity, although state and federal lawmakers increasingly are pressing legislation to make it easier to hold suppliers responsible for drug deaths.
In Loudoun, a similar case was brought to trial in January 2016. James Michael Webber was charged with involuntary manslaughter for suppling heroin to a friend who died from an overdose.
According to evidence in that case, Webber traveled to Baltimore to purchase heroin, which he then shared with his friend Jaime Ducharme, a 2004 Broad Run High School graduate. After taking the drug, Ducharme was found dead in her bedroom by her mother. The heroin later was found to have been laced with the synthetic opiate, fentanyl.
A Loudoun Circuit Court jury ultimately acquitted Webber of involuntary manslaughter, but he was convicted of distributing heroin. He was sentenced to 21 months in jail.