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Woman sentenced in fatal heroin OD case

May 12, 2018 GMT

A Putnam County circuit judge sentenced a woman to the maximum penalty for injecting a Culloden man with drugs and killing him in 2017, while the victim’s mother wondered why the woman wasn’t convicted of murder.

Judge Phillip Stowers on Friday sentenced 36-year-old Joney Shannon Farley, of Hurricane, West Virginia, to 15 years in prison for her role in the death of 57-year-old Jeffry Marshall Burdette in 2017.

Burdette died March 19, 2017, four days after Farley twice injected him with a mixture of heroin and water at his request.

Farley drove Burdette to Charleston Area Medical Center’s Teays Valley Hospital once she realized he wasn’t breathing. Burdette was on life support for four days leading up to his death.

Farley pleaded guilty to drug delivery resulting in death on Feb. 12.

In handing down the sentence, Stowers said he felt the most significant goal of that law was to deter people from using drugs in groups.

“Perhaps we can’t fix the heroin tsunami that’s covering the state of West Virginia,” Stowers said. “We can try to reason with people that if you participate in group activities and people die while you’re doing heroin, there’s a statute such that takes away a lot of your freedom away and people need to stop participating in that activity.”

Farley originally was charged with first-degree murder when deputies with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department arrested her on April 21, 2017.

The plea deal in the case was made possible by a law enacted by the West Virginia Legislature in 2017.

Gov. Jim Justice signed into law Senate Bill 220, which established the crime of drug delivery resulting in death, on April 26, 2017, five days after Farley was arrested.

Putnam Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kristina Raynes said she offered the plea deal to Farley and her attorneys after consulting with Burdette’s family.

In her victim impact statement, Burdette’s mother, Imogene Burdette, questioned the plea deal.

Raynes read Imogene Burdette’s statement and a statement from Jeffry Burdette’s daughter during the hearing.

“How can the charge go from first-degree murder to almost nothing?” Imogene Burdette said in her letter. “Whether she meant to kill our son or not, the fact remains he is just as dead, and she caused it. She needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Raynes said she talked with Imogene Burdette prior to the hearing. While Imogene Burdette said she didn’t recall a conversation in which she accepted the plea deal, she said

she trusted Raynes when she said they talked, Raynes said during the hearing.

“I don’t want the victims to feel they were sold out or that we did anything that they didn’t have authority or a meaningful voice in,” Raynes said. “I think Mrs. Burdette understands that but maybe doesn’t understand how the legal system proceeds.”

Further down in her letter, Imogene Burdette said she believed Farley got her son addicted to heroin so that he would buy drugs from her before she eventually injected him, causing his death.

“I want her to be somewhere that she can never do that to someone else,” Imogene Burdette said in the letter. “She caused him to die and took him from us.”

In her letter, Jeff Burdette’s daughter, Elise Burdette, said her father will miss her college graduation this month and her wedding later this year because of Farley’s actions.

She said her father wasn’t perfect, but Farley was responsible for his death.

“My dad is not faultless in this,” Elise Burdette wrote. “The moment he stopped breathing, the responsibility was put on Joney Farley to get help for him, which she failed to do until it was too late.”

After the statements were read, Farley’s attorney Herb Hively noted that Farley hasn’t been accused or convicted of dealing drugs in this case or any previous criminal case.

H.F. Salsbery also represented Farley in the case.

Farley is the daughter of former Putnam County Sheriff Stan Farley. He served as the sheriff from 1998 to 2004. He worked for more than 20 years before that as a trooper with the West Virginia State Police, according to a previous Charleston Daily Mail report. He died in December 2011 at age 68.

During the hearing Friday, Farley apologized to Burdette’s family and asked for their forgiveness and prayers.

“I had no intention of harming Jeff in any way,” she said. “He was my friend. We all wanted to get high that day. That’s what drug addiction does. It takes away any thoughts except getting more drugs to you.”

Farley remained incarcerated at Western Regional Jail on Friday awaiting transfer to a correctional facility to begin her sentence.

“I had no intention of harming Jeff in any way. He was my friend. We all wanted to get high that day. That’s what drug addiction does. It takes away any thoughts except getting more drugs to you.”

Joney Farley sentenced in overdose death of Jeffry Burdette