New Kensington couple faces heroin charges
By Jodi Weigand
Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
An Arnold couple is facing three felony drug counts and a child endangerment charge because state police say they found 400 packets of heroin inside their apartment last week.
According to police, Shawn Michael Layhew, 34, and his girlfriend Debra Ann Landis, 31, were storing the drugs and paraphernalia, including syringes and packaging materials, where it was accessible to two children living in the home in the 1900 block of Leishman Avenue.
Police arrested the couple following a traffic stop conducted after Layhew drove away from an apartment under surveillance for suspected drug activity.
Layhew admitted to officers that he was among several people who routinely transported heroin for a dealer who lived in the apartment building, according to court documents.
Agents from the state attorney general's office and the Westmoreland County Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Taskforce were conducting surveillance on an apartment located along Fifth Street Extension in New Ken-sington on Thursday, according to a criminal complaint filed to support the charges.
About 4 p.m., according to the complaint, law enforcement saw a Dodge Intrepid arrive and park outside. When the vehicle left about two minutes later, police tailed the driver, later identified as Layhew, with an unmarked police unit.
Police pulled Layhew over near Kenneth Avenue and McCandless Street in Arnold when he made two turns without signaling. His vehicle also had a nonworking brake light.
Layhew told officers he was visiting a friend “Chris” for a few minutes and was headed back to his apartment.
He apologized for the traffic violations and seemed nervous during the traffic stop to the point where he was visibly shaking, police said.
Officers told Layhew that surveillance was taking place at the apartment building and asked him to step out of his vehicle.
Layhew told officers he wanted to cooperate because he has children and is on probation for a drug-related charge.
As he was being patted down, according to the complaint, Layhew told officers he had six $5 bills in his front pocket. He said he received the money for being a “jitney.”
He told officers he was transporting people and drugs for a dealer who lived in the apartment building.
Police say they found 40 stamp bags of heroin under the ashtray in the center console in Layhew's vehicle.
Officers later took Layhew to his apartment, where they saw his girlfriend, Landis, in the front yard.
Two children under age 18 in the apartment “continually” told police officers where the drugs and other materials were, police say. The drug paraphernalia included heroin packing items, syringes, rubber bands, spoons and smoking pipes.
Landis told police that she knew the drugs and paraphernalia were there and that she tried to hide it before officers arrived, according to the complaint.
Layhew and Landis were being held in the Westmoreland County jail on $100,000 bond each.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before District Judge Frank J. Pallone Jr.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Cross on the Hill’ a special sight for residents
- Renter tries to battle New Kensington house fire
- PennDOT wants Rock Airport in West Deer to remain open
- Avonmore parents enter disabled child in contest for wheelchair-accessible van
- Alle-Kiski Valley economic development group honored for police training
- Lower Burrell restaurant’s noise subject of Liquor Control Board hearing
- Leechburg elementary eagle-watchers make ‘NBC Nightly News’
- Boy, 15, charged with trying to rob gas station in Harmar
- Agreement nears on Springdale police chief’s duties
- New Kensington-Arnold lays groundwork for school consolidation
- Allegheny Township supervisors agree to rezone land for farming