ShareThis Page
News

Text messages provide link in Delmont overdose case, police say

Renatta Signorini
| Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

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 rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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.

click me