Former Westmoreland man aided suicide, police say
A former Westmoreland County man accused of obstructing state troopers as they tried to enter an Indiana County home where a woman overdosed and died has been charged with assisting in her suicide.
Brandon Lee Crowe, 31, an inmate at the county jail, was arraigned Tuesday on a rarely used second-degree felony complaint of causing or aiding in the suicide of Julie Madeley, 39, of West Wheatfield Township.
Crowe had lived in Arnold and Tarentum, according to court documents.
State police in Indiana previously charged him with making terroristic threats, obstructing administration of law, recklessly endangering another person, obstructing emergency services, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and theft. Police amended the complaint at Crowe's preliminary hearing Tuesday before Clymer District Judge George Thachik, and he was granted a continuance to prepare for the case.
A second-degree felony conviction in Pennsylvania carries a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.
District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said the suicide charge Crowe faces likely was enacted by the Legislature to deter assisted suicides in the 1990s. Medical pathologist Dr. Jack Kevorkian of Michigan, who is now deceased, had gained notoriety and was criminally prosecuted for helping dozens of terminally ill patients end their lives.
“Granted, this is not often used. … it's not a Dr. Kevorkian type of case. But basically, according to Crowe's ... own statements, he said the victim talked about taking her own life and there is enough evidence … based on interviews to show that he intentionally aided in her suicide,” Dougherty said.
“This charge fits this case. There are the right circumstances here,” he said.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Jason Morgan, troopers were summoned to Madeley's residence on Climax Road at 1 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. on March 27.
During the first incident, Morgan said, Crowe initially refused to answer the door but later relented and troopers found Madeley, “who appeared to be under the influence.”
Morgan said the troopers asked Madeley if she was OK and Madeley replied “that she had taken her prescription Seroquel (prescription medication for depression) for the evening.”
Later that day, Morgan said Christine Dobies, a friend, repeatedly tried to telephone and text Madeley but was unsuccessful. She then telephoned Madeley's daughter, Angel Fenn, police said.
On her way to Madeley's residence around 4 p.m., Fenn asked state police to accompany her, Morgan said.
When Trooper Richard Englert and Fenn arrived at Madeley's residence, Crowe had Madeley's cell phone and was loading personal belongings from the home into her vehicle, Morgan said.
“Crowe related that the victim was not inside the residence and that he had not seen her since March 26 at 10 a.m. when she left with another (acquaintance),” Morgan said.
When troopers asked several more times whether Madeley was inside, Morgan said Crowe maintained she was not there.
After 15 minutes of looking around the residence and questioning Crowe, Morgan said Crowe admitted Madeley was inside and had trouble breathing. Police found Madeley lying unconscious on her back in the living room,
When a neighbor asked why Crowe kept denying Madeley was inside, he replied that “he was scared, and he only gave the victim a drink because she was choking on pills,” Morgan said.
Crowe was permitted to leave the area, but about two hours later troopers found him again trying to enter Madeley's car. Morgan said he had Madeley's telephone and some of her jewelry.
Crowe was arrested when he began yelling threats at troopers and others at the scene, Morgan said.
Madeley was taken to Indiana Regional Medical Center, then transferred to UPMC Montefiore hospital in Pittsburgh, where she died at 4:30 a.m. on March 28.
Morgan said toxicology tests showed Medeley had more than three times a lethal dose of Seroquel in her system, as well as Xanax, which is prescribed for anxiety.
Police said in court documents that Crowe and Madeley began an “online relationship” in early March, and Crowe moved in with Madeley and another man around March 16. Within 10 days, Madeley had asked Crowe to leave, and Crowe “entered the bedroom and attempted to commit suicide by creating superficial cuts on both of his arms ... but did not leave,” the affidavit states.
When questioned at the county jail, Crowe told police that Madeley “wanted to commit suicide” and that “he did not give her the pills, but she took them herself.”
Morgan added that Crowe claimed he did not intend for Madeley to die and had provided her only water to “wash the pills down.”
Asked about the personal items he took, Crowe said he intended “to travel to New Kensington or Pittsburgh to sell the items and then he was going to telephone 911 to tell them the victim was inside the residence.”
Morgan said the time frame and Madeley's location inside the home “suggest Crowe had to step over the victim's body on multiple occasions and remove some jewelry from her person” as he loaded her car.
Relatives of Crowe's told police he “has been known to crush pills, find vulnerable women, get close with them and use them for what he needed,” Morgan wrote in the affidavit.
Crowe was remanded to jail on $75,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing. Crowe indicated to Thachik during his arraignment that he did not understand the suicide charge.
Court records indicate he will be represented by a public defender.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.