Text messages provide link in Delmont overdose case, police say
Text messages a Delmont woman sent to her boyfriend in February indicate the planning of a drug purchase, police said.
Former Delmont Officer Blake Danowski read a few of the messages seized from the cellphone of Joshua Perne, 24, of Delmont during a preliminary hearing on Tuesday for two people accused of providing Perne with heroin that caused his overdose death.
In one of the messages, sent at 11:23 a.m. Feb. 15, Lisa Lynn Kaciubij, 39, wrote that she wished she had some “stuff,” Danowski testified.
“Nope, wasn't kidding, lol, Ryan running,” Kaciubij wrote at 11:34 a.m., according to testimony.
“Nice, you need me to run to the bank or can I pay you later?” Kaciubij wrote four minutes later, Danowski testified.
Investigators believe the man referred to in the text message is Ryan Robert Paul, 25, of Murrysville. He and Kaciubij were ordered held for trial by District Judge Charles Conway on charges of drug delivery resulting in death, conspiracy and tampering with evidence.
Police allege that Kaciubij called Paul for help after finding Perne unresponsive at about 5:30 p.m. Feb. 15.
After the pair allegedly cleaned up any evidence of drug use and attempted to revive Perne, police and paramedics were summoned to the Lou Anne Lane home about two hours later.
Perne's family members declined to comment after the hearing.
Lawyers for the defendants questioned the recently revised drug delivery resulting in death law and unsuccessfully asked for the charges to be dismissed.
Steven Townsend argued that because Perne's death was ruled the result of combined drug toxicity, the charge doesn't apply for Paul. Townsend questioned the tampering with evidence charge, arguing that an investigation hadn't been initiated when the defendants allegedly cleaned up the scene.
“There's been no indication that there's been a crime at this point in time,” Townsend said. “This is merely an overdose, which is not a crime.”
Assistant District Attorney James Lazar said “there's no question” that an investigation would ensue, “which is why (Kaciubij) immediately called (Paul) instead of calling 911.”
Attorney Brian Aston said “zero testimony” was presented that Kaciubij delivered, provided or distributed any drugs to Perne.
“She did not. She was purchasing for herself,” he argued.
Her alleged participation is enough evidence to move ahead with the charges, Lazar said.
“We have individuals who pool their money together to (buy) heroin from someone else,” Lazar said. “She contributed money ... that otherwise Mr. Perne wouldn't have had enough money to buy the amount he did.”
The state Legislature recently removed intent from the state statute, making it easier for prosecutors to charge a drug provider with third-degree homicide. Investigators are being sent to every overdose death scene in Westmoreland County to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
Paul and Kaciubij are the second and third people in Westmoreland to be charged with drug delivery resulting in death since February, when state police arrested Kyland Napper, 20, of Wilkinsburg for the March 2012 death of Sage Capozzi in a Hempfield hotel room. Napper is accused of selling Capozzi the fatal dose of heroin. Napper is awaiting trial.
Paul is being held in the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. In a separate case, charges of attempted aggravated assault and aggravated assault against him were held for trial by Conway. Paul is accused of stabbing a man in the neck outside a Delmont bar on April 12.
Kaciubij is free after posting $10,000 bond. Her attorney said she is undergoing drug treatment.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.