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Area woman sentenced in drug death

Published January 19. 2010 05:00PM

A Nesquehoning woman was sentenced to a county prison term Monday in the drug overdose death of a man

Felicia Ann Bower, 21, of 350 W. Railroad St., was sentenced by Senior Judge Richard W. Webb to serve nine to one day less 24 months in prison on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

She previously pleaded guilty to the charge, admitting she injected Kenneth James Kowalski, 44, with heroin on Dec. 1, 2008, in an apartment along Coal Street in the borough. She was originally charged with possession with intent to deliver, possession, and drug delivery resulting in death. Those charges were dropped in a plea agreement.

Prior to imposing the jail term Webb heard from family members of both Bower and Kowalski.

Defense attorney Bruce Miller told Webb that Bower was remorseful for what happened and that anytime there is a death it is "unbearable" for the family.

But he also said although Bower was wrong for her actions, he reminded the court that the victim asked the defendant to inject him with heroin after he had already snorted a bag of the drug.

An autopsy report indicated Kowalski died of adverse alcohol and drug effects.

Miller said Bower was a young girl who was a drug addict and was also using alcohol at the time. He said on the night of the incident Kowalski made contact with his client to arrange for the purchase of heroin. He said the two then went to the victim's apartment where they used the drug.

He claimed Bower at first resisted Kowalski's request to inject him with the heroin but she later complied. After he became unresponsive, she attempted to revive him and called 9-1-1. Miller said Bower remained at the scene until help arrived.

He said she first denied injecting Kowalski but the day after the incident she met with police and fully cooperated with them.

Bower, who has one child and is pregnant with a second, told Webb, "I'm deeply sorry and remorseful for what happened. I didn't mean to hurt him. All I can do is say I'm sorry, but I know that is not enough."

Webb also heard testimony from Kowalski's family. They told the court that they wanted justice. His daughter said she lost "her best friend." They also said Kowalski was afraid of needles and felt Bower deserved a long prison term.

Jeffrey Astor, of the state Attorney General's office, who prosecuted the case, asked the court to send a message to the public that heroin is a very dangerous drug and is being brought into the Carbon County area for sale and distribution.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph Matika said the court has to temper justice with mercy and fairness. He said, "She injected a person which resulted in his death. She must be accountable for her actions."

Webb said of all the cases he was scheduled to hear Monday more than 70 or 80 percent involve the use of drugs.

He said heroin is becoming a real problem in the county.

"It is a deadly scourge," in the county, he said, adding that people have to realize how addictive and dangerous all drugs are, especially heroin. He said heroin has become the biggest and deadliest drug problem in the county.

In addition to the jail term, Bower will serve three years of probation after the prison sentence is completed. She was also ordered to get a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, continue her current counseling program, get a mental health evaluation, zero tolerance imposed on drug or alcohol use, perform 100 hours of community service when released from prison. She was given credit for 34 days spent in jail on the charge.

She began the jail term immediately.

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