Scotty B. Hoover, 24, was convicted of a Class B felony dealing in a schedule II controlled substance and Class C felony contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the drug-related death of 17-year-old Dietrich Jackson. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the Class B charge had been reduced from a class A charge and a charge of dealing in a Class IV controlled substance was dropped.
Jackson died in the early morning hours of Dec. 15, 2007 after overdosing on prescription drugs the night before.
Hoover provided some of the drugs -- Xanax and oxymorphone -- that led to Jackson's death.
Court records said Hoover crushed pills so Jackson could snort them.
A juvenile who was with Jackson the night before he died told police Jackson lost consciousness five or 10 minutes after snorting the pills and was in and out of consciousness over the next couple of hours.
Toxicology reports showed that Jackson had Tetrahydrocannabinol (the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, commonly referred to as THC), the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, the powerful semi-synthetic opioid analgesic oxymorphone and alcohol in his system at the time of his death.
Putnam County Coroner Thomas Miller said in January the oxymorphone, which is six to eight times more potent than morphine, was likely the cause of Jackson's death.
Hoover received 13 years for the Class B felony and 5 years for the Class C, with the two to run concurrently. He also has credit for the 341 days he has served since his arrest.
Judge Matthew Headley handed down a sentence of 13 years with nine executed. Two years are to be spent on probation with another two on home electronic detention.
Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter recommended the maximum sentence under the agreement of 28 years for Hoover.
"A message has to be sent to the young people in our community that giving prescription drugs to your friends to get high can kill, and this will not be tolerated in our community," Bookwalter said.
"Mr. Hoover comes from a very good family," he added. "The problem is, Scott Hoover's a drug dealer."
Hoover's defense was predicated partially on the claim that he was not a drug dealer, but that he had simply "shared" the drugs with other people.
"I'd do them at my house. When other people were there, I'd share them with them," Hoover said.
In view of the fact that other people involved with the case had received lighter sentences, defense attorney Denny Bridges asked the court for similar leniency.
"Look at the sentences everyone else has gotten and then look at what he's facing," Bridges said.
Besides Hoover, three other adults were charged in connection with Jackson's death. They were Steve M. Smith, 44, of Greencastle, who was charged with Class B felony dealing in a schedule II controlled substance and was sentenced on July 10 to one and one-half years, all suspended and spent on probation; Jessica Phares, 25, who was charged with two counts of Class D felony possession of a controlled substance and had all charges against her dismissed without prejudice on Dec. 1; and Eric Mahrenholz, 51, who was charged with Class A misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor and Class C furnishing alcohol to a minor and is set to go to trial on Feb. 17.
Bridges said Hoover had spent enough time in jail -- he had been there since his arrest on Jan. 16 -- and requested that he receive a six-year sentence that included home detention rather than prison time.
"I think the community has gotten the message," Bridges said. "Putting Scotty's head on the chopping block is contrary to Indiana public policy. He's stepping up like a man and answering every question everyone has."
Besides providing simple answers to the questions of both attorneys and the judge, Hoover made only a few statements to the court.
"I'd like to apologize to the family. I know it's been tragic for them," Hoover said. "(Jackson) was my friend."
But the prosecutor's question was ultimately how an older friend could act so irresponsibly to a younger friend, asking why a man who was 23 years old at the time would be "running around doing drugs with a bunch of 17-year-olds."
Bookwalter's strongest argument perhaps came when he pointed out that Jackson, not Hoover, had gotten the worst end of this situation.
"We've got a dead kid. He's paid the most significant price you can pay and that's a sentence of eternity," Bookwalter said.
Headley, while going nowhere near the maximum sentence recommended by the prosecution, seemed to agree with many of Bookwalter's arguments.
"It sounds like nothing was ever going to stop you until something happened like this," Headley said the Hoover. "You're 24. You're not 17, 18, 19 or 20. There comes a time when you have to stand up on your feet."
He also pointed out that the court had already shown leniency in allowing the plea agreement.
"You got a break that it wasn't an A felony," Headley said.
Dietrich's grandmother, Charity Pankratz, with whom he was living at the time of death was not at the sentencing Monday, but submitted a lengthy statement.
"Our view of this tragic event is that I was mainly a result of Dietrich's being a teenager, and like many teenagers, he engaged in risky behavior," Pankratz wrote. "Dietrich was generally a sensible kid, and while he may not have realized that a prescription drug could be harmful, I'm sure he knew he should not take drugs not prescribed for him. But no one put any of these substances in his body against his will. He was looking for a good time and he had not only company, but people who supplied him with these illegal substances."
Pankratz, like Bridges, thought too much of the blame for her grandson's death was placed squarely on Hoover's shoulders.
"It was the combination of alcohol and the prescription drugs, and probably his lack of tolerance to them which killed him," she wrote. "I don't know who provided Dietrich with alcohol and marijuana that night, which surely had to have impaired his judgment and made him more likely to take other drugs he saw friends taking. I don't know who provided the Xanax, which also cannot be mixed with alcohol and had to have contributed to his death, and I know only that Scott Hoover provided a substance that, combined with alcohol and the other substances in (Jackson's) body, led to his death.
"I think that there are a number of people who share responsibility for this tragedy besides Mr. Hoover, including whoever gave (Jackson) alcohol, whoever gave (Jackson) marijuana, whoever have (Jackson) Xanax, and Dietrich, who willingly took them."
Pankratz did not want Hoover to be sent to jail for any great length of time. Her hope, she said in her statement, was that Hoover regretted providing her grandson with drugs, that the time he had already spent in jail had enabled him to deal with his own drug dependencies and any problems that had led to them, and that he would consider living his life outside of jail in a different way for his own sake and in Jackson's honor.
"I do not believe long sentences are beneficial to individuals or to society unless it is clear that the person incarcerated has no intention or hope of turning their life around," Pankratz wrote. "I do not think we know this to be the case with Mr. Hoover, who is only 24 and does not have a criminal history. I have talked to him and he appears remorseful. I have talked to his parents and know he has their support. If he can get through this and become a better person, surely that is what Dietrich would want and what is best for society. Dietrich had a good heart and loved life. I don't think he would want to ruin someone else's life. What purpose would it serve?"
Ultimately, Pankratz's hope is that her grandson's death will be a wake-up call about the prevalence of drug and alcohol use among teens and young adults.
"As a community, it is in all of our best interests to try to prevent this from happening to anyone else," she wrote. "Each life is a gift and we are all our brother's and sister's keepers. Together, maybe we can make Dietrich's death a powerful lesson that bad things can and do happen to good kids, but that maybe if we work together, we can stop some of them from happening. If so, it would be healing for me and everyone who loved Dietrich."