- Erie High student accused of possessing fentanyl at school has been charged with drug offense and reckless endangerment
- The case is in juvenile court because the defendant is under 18
- The admission of the student to the charges in court sets the stage for a disposition hearing, similar to a sentencing in adult court
A quick resolution is underway in the case of an Erie High School student accused of having fentanyl and thousands of dollars in cash at school in late August.
Eight days after the student was arrested following a high school incident, authorities said the student admitted to the charges during a hearing in the Juvenile Court Division of the Common Pleas Court of Erie County Thursday.
The student was charged with having 13.96 grams of fentanyl, possibly mixed with cocaine, and $3,100 in cash at Erie High on Aug. 31, the third day of classes for the Erie school district in the 2022-23 school year, authorities said. The student was charged with possession with intent to deliver and reckless endangerment, for having had the drugs at a school.
The admission of charges is equivalent to a guilty plea in adult criminal court. By admitting the charges at the arbitration hearing—or, in juvenile court parlance, admitting the delinquent acts—the Erie High student paved the way to being declared a delinquent and for a judge to hold a decision hearing at a later date.
Stop:DA: Erie High student accused of having fentanyl, cash; the case goes to juvenile court
At a disposition hearing, similar to sentencing in adult court, a minor may be sent to a residential facility or placed on probation, among other options. The student remains in custody at the Edmund L. Thomas Teen Center in Millcreek Township.
Juvenile cases designed for rapid resolutions
Proceedings in juvenile court generally move faster than those in adult criminal court. State law requires that an arbitration hearing, where a confession or other action may take place, be held 10 days after a minor is detained. Due to the age of minors, authorities usually want to put them in for rehabilitation services as soon as possible.
Erie County Judge Erin Connelly Marucci held the hearing Thursday. The judge refused Erie Times-News’ request to attend the hearing. She said both the prosecution and the defense objected to the presence of a journalist in court. Access to juvenile court hearings may be restricted due to the age of the defendants, who are under 18 years old.
Connelly Marucci’s office has confirmed the outcome of the hearing. The district attorney’s office declined to comment because the case involves a minor. The defense could not immediately be reached for comment.
The district attorney’s office declined to provide the students’ ages or genders, citing confidentiality requirements for juvenile court cases. District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz released information about the charges after the arrest.
Erie School District Pledged to ‘Working Together’
The Erie School District declined to comment on specifics of the case, but said in a statement after the arrest that “we are grateful for the immediate and professional response from our district police officers and the cooperation of other forces.” of the order”.
The district also said that “an incident like this underscores the importance of the continued work we do to ensure the safety and security of our staff, students and families, and the need for us to work together as a community to address youth drug addiction, use and violence.”
The arrest at Erie High, 3325 Cherry St., came as security measures, including metal detectors, were tightened at all schools in the Erie School District, which has 10,000 students, in response to the shooting at Erie High in April. The student in this case, who injured another student, is being prosecuted as an adult due to the violent nature of the offence.
Security measures:‘As safe as it ever was’: Here are the security improvements at Erie High after the shooting
Opioid crisis hits Erie
The drug arrest at Erie High showed just how far the opioid epidemic has reached Erie.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Often packaged in slow-release patches, fentanyl also appears on the streets in Erie in pill form and is mixed or passed off as other street drugs, including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, police say. ‘Erie.
The percentage of drug-related deaths involving fentanyl has steadily increased during the opioid crisis. The Erie County Coroner’s Office first listed drugs as a contributing factor in its reports in 2016.
National problem:Erie County, DA office to receive first payments in historic opioid settlement
County case:Drug Deaths in Erie County Jump in 2021: Check Out the Disturbing Trend