Accused heroin dealer avoids prison

A 24-year-old Columbus man originally charged with dealing in heroin was able to avoid being sent to prison.

However, Eric M. Winship will remain under the watch of the local judicial system for the next 5½ years.

Winship, who resided on Ruddick Avenue, was first sentenced to serve 3½ years in the work-release program at the local jail, according to the sentence handed down by Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann.

As a condition, the judge ordered that Winship undergo a substance-abuse evaluation and comply with all recommendations.

An evaluation will be made at the end of the work-release phase of the sentence to determine whether Winship should be placed on probation for the remaining two years, Heimann ordered Sept. 22.

On Jan. 24, Winship was pulled over in the 1500 block of Washington Street after a computer check showed he was driving while suspended, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The suspect got out of his vehicle and later attempted to flee Columbus police officer Frank Dickman as he was being handcuffed, the affidavit said.

After a struggle ensued, an assisting officer suffered minor injuries before a stun gun was used to subdue Winship, Columbus Police Department spokesman Lt. Matt Harris said.

Police later located heroin and digital scales inside Winship’s jacket, Harris said. Officers also located additional items related to drug distribution in a backpack believed to belong to Winship, he said.

He was originally charged with dealing in a narcotic drug as a Level 3 felony, possession of a narcotic drug as a Level 5 felony, resisting law enforcement as a Level 6 felony, and a misdemeanor charge of driving while suspended, court records state.

But while free on bond, Winship was again arrested four months later on additional drug charges.

On May 16, he was found to be carrying 2.42 grams of heroin, as well as three strips of suboxone, a drug provided for opioid addicts, after being accused of shoplifting at a department store on the city’s west side, the affidavit stated.

The new charges filed against the defendant included possession of a narcotic drug as a Level 6 felony, as well as misdemeanor charges of theft and possession of a controlled substance, court records state.

According to a plea agreement dated July 14, prosecutors agreed to have the sentences on the possession charges from the two separate cases served at the same time, rather than consecutively. All other charges in both cases would be dismissed.

On Aug. 22, Winship plead guilty to two counts of possession of a narcotic drug as Level 5 felonies, as well as resisting arrest as a Level 6 felony.

During the sentencing, Heimann noted that Winship has a history of criminal and delinquent behavior. The judge also said he has been provided treatment for substance abuse in the past, but did not complete it successfully.

Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.