Combined Drug Toxicity – U. S. Supreme Court

Combined Drug Toxicity and the Supreme Court

Our Supreme Court has held the language of a federal sentencing guideline enhancement, which is identical to the Pennsylvania statute, requires a “but for” analysis in order to apply the guideline.  This means that the drug delivered must be the actual and only cause of death, not a “contributing” or “substantial” factor.  It held that it doesn’t matter if the death more likely than not, if there is no expert testimony that indicates it was the only cause of death.  Allegheny County will not charge this section of the Crimes Code for many reasons, but not our Supreme Court has placed further restrictions on its application.  Burrage v. United States

At the Preliminary Hearing, Steven C. Townsend, learns that the coroner, Mr. Wecht, found that the death was a result of “combined drug toxicity”, Heroin and Topamax.


Two people who were arrested earlier this year on charges of providing the heroin that killed a 24-year-old Delmont man in February and then removing syringes and other evidence from the house faced a judge Tuesday.

Ryan Robert Paul, 25, of Murrysville, allegedly sold heroin to Joshua Perne on Feb. 15, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Through a review of Perne’s cellphone calls and text messages, police learned that Lisa Lynn Kaciubij, 39, of Delmont, contributed money toward the purchase.

Paul and Kaciubij face charges of drug delivery resulting in death and tampering with evidence.

Paul allegedly delivered the heroin to Kaciubij’s home and left. When Kaciubij found Perne unconscious, she made two calls to Paul. He returned and helped her remove four syringes and several empty stamp bags that contained the heroin, according to the affidavit.

Later that day, an undercover task force agent purchased heroin from Paul. He was arrested and admitted to selling the heroin to Perne and helping to remove the evidence, according to the complaint.

Channel 11’s Joe Holden reported Tuesday that all charges were held for trial.