by: Renatta Signorini, TribLIVE Updated:
IRWIN, Pa. - It's been nearly two years since 20-year-old Sage Capozzi died of an overdose in a Hempfield motel room, but his father never lost hope that the man who sold him the heroin would be prosecuted.
“It's been a long time coming,” Carmen Capozzi said on Friday.
State police charged a Wilkinsburg man on Friday with allegedly selling Sage Capozzi, of Irwin, heroin that he later injected in a room at Motel 3. Capozzi's girlfriend awoke to find him dead of an overdose early on March 5, 2012.
Kyland William Napper, 20, faces charges of drug delivery resulting in death, possession with intent to deliver and heroin possession. He is in the Allegheny County Jail on unrelated charges.
After his son's death, Carmen Capozzi founded the group “Sage's Army,” hoping to raise awareness and help people struggling with drug addiction.
“It's about time, and we need to show these drug dealers that we're not going to take this anymore,” Capozzi said.
District Attorney John Peck said his office received results of the state police investigation in mid-January.
“The investigation simply took that long to complete,” he said.
Trooper James Simpson alleges in a criminal complaint that Sage Capozzi arranged to buy heroin from a man called “G” on March 4, 2012. At noon, Sage Capozzi and his girlfriend, then 20, drove to Monroeville Mall where they met “G,” who was driving a gold-colored Audi sedan, Simpson said.
Sage Capozzi allegedly purchased about 20 stamp bags of heroin, and the couple got a room at Motel 3 in Hempfield.
That evening, the girlfriend told police, Sage Capozzi injected “an unknown number” of stamp bags of heroin. They both went to sleep. When the girlfriend awoke about 1 a.m. on March 5, Capozzi wasn't breathing, police said.
The girlfriend identified Napper as “G” in a photo lineup on March 15, 2012, police said. Simpson did not detail in the complaint how police connected Napper to “G” but said the suspect was “believed to sell drugs in the Penn Hills/Monroeville areas.”
Police didn't say in court papers why Napper wasn't charged until nearly two years after Capozzi's death. Simpson was unavailable for comment late Friday afternoon.
Carmen Capozzi said Simpson told him about the charges on Thursday. He said he hopes the arrest helps bring closure to family members of other overdose victims.
“We tell addicts that there's consequences to using,” he said. “There should be consequences to selling a deadly substance, too.
“I'm excited, but I'm also sad, because it's not going to bring my kid back,” he said.
A warrant for Napper's arrest was issued by Jeannette District Judge Joseph DeMarchis. An arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, according to court records.
Prosecution of the charge of drug delivery resulting in death is rare in Westmoreland County.
“I think we've had four of these (cases) that I can recall” in 19 years as district attorney, Peck said on Friday. “It isn't charged very often.”
The District Attorney's Office first attempted to prosecute the charge in 1995, when a quadriplegic died after he was injected with heroin by a friend, Gloria Highhawk. She was charged with drug delivery resulting in death under a 1989 statute.
The case was derailed when Westmoreland County Judge Gary Caruso ruled the count was actually a sentencing provision and dismissed the charge. Caruso's ruling eventually was upheld by state appeals courts. Highhawk was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 3½ to seven years in prison.
In 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett signed an amendment to the state crimes code that clarified that drug delivery resulting in death can be prosecuted as third-degree homicide when a person intentionally administers, delivers or prescribes drugs to a person who dies from an overdose.
Several drug-related criminal cases against Napper have been filed in the past two years in Allegheny County, and he was arrested in August as a member of the “Wilkinsburg Crew,” a purported violent heroin trafficking ring disbanded by the state Attorney General's Office.
Napper was sentenced to 12 months of probation in June on simple assault charges from two incidents in February and March 2012. He was ordered to complete anger management classes, according to online court records.
He is scheduled for trial in multiple drug-related cases in Allegheny County court on Monday and in April for his alleged role in the “Wilkinsburg Crew” case.
(Staff writer Rich Cholodofsky contributed. Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.)
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