A Nelson County woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to a drug distribution charge related to the death of a Lovingston woman last year.
Janine Hanna, 60, of Lovingston, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance in Nelson Circuit Court before newly appointed Judge J. Frederick Watson. The charge was in connection with the February 2018 fatal overdose of Patricia Bruce, 38, of Lovingston.
Patricia Bruce’s mother, Deborah Bruce, 60, of Bedford, also suffered a fatal overdose. On February 13, 2018, both were found dead in Lovingston Ridge Apartments.
According to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Erik Laub, the medical examiner’s report showed both deceased women had elevated levels of morphine as well as cocaine and hydrocodone in their blood. Deborah Bruce’s cause of death was ruled as cocaine toxicity and Patricia Bruce’s cause of death was ruled as combined cocaine and morphine toxicity.
Hanna and Scott Campbell, 30, of Lovingston, were charged with distribution of morphine and conspiracy to distribute morphine in connection with the death of Patricia Bruce. The conspiracy charges were dropped for both defendants and both pleaded guilty to one count of distribution in May. The pleas were not part of a plea agreement, Laub said. Campbell was sentenced to eight months in jail in June.
According to Laub, Hanna sold Campbell the liquid morphine for $40 in February 2018. Patricia Bruce gave Campbell six hydrocodone pills in exchange for the morphine. During an interview Hanna had in May with Robert New, then-captain of the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, she admitted to selling the liquid morphine and knew Campbell was going to give it to someone, but didn’t know who.
“On one hand, it wasn’t intended that someone will die, but on the other hand when you sell drugs it’s inherently dangerous and somewhere along the line someone is going to die,” Laub told The News & Advance. “There is a price that has to be paid.”
Hanna’s defense attorney, Scott De Bruin, said this was an unfortunate incident.
“[Hanna] is very sorry for what occurred. There was no intention this woman would overdose; she was merely trying to help a friend,” De Bruin said.
Although the medical examiner ruled the Bruces had cocaine in their systems, according to Laub, neither Hanna nor Campbell indicated anything to New about cocaine use or sale.
According to Laub, Hanna will be sentenced in October and will remain free on bond.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for the News and Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.