Drug dealer in fatal overdose sentenced to 6 years in prison

A heroin dealer who was tracked down after a suspected fatal overdose has been sentenced to prison.

Heather L. Walker, 35, of 918 Lafayette Ave., has received a six-year sentence from Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge Jim Worton.

The first four years will be spent in a state prison, while the remainder of the sentence will be served on probation, the judge ordered.

Worton indicated his willingness to further reduce the sentence if Walker successfully completes a lengthy and intensive drug-treatment program while in prison.

Details of the case against Walker were contained in a probable-cause affidavit filed May 8 by an undercover detective with the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team.

The investigation began when a 30-year-old father of four was found dead in his Columbus home April 21. The detective suspected heroin after recalling the victim was revived after an overdose last year, the affidavit stated.

A search of the victim’s bedroom closet turned up multiple burnt aluminum foil pieces, often used for smoking heroin and fentanyl, the detective wrote.

Investigators also found private messages made through a social media account.

They showed that the day before his death, the victim asked a 25-year-old neighbor to obtain heroin for him, the affidavit stated. The neighbor agreed, telling the victim he would get the drug from a female acquaintance, the investigator wrote.

During questioning, the 25-year-old said he bought the heroin for the victim from Walker, the affidavit stated.

After the defendant was identified by the neighbor through photographs, the investigator learned Walker — whose driving privileges were suspended for life — was behind the wheel during a police stop two weeks earlier, the detective wrote.

On May 1, the officer went to Walker’s workplace in German Township and located the tan Mazda 626 passenger car she had been driving earlier, the affidavit stated.

After witnessing the woman illegally drive off from her workplace that night, the officer immediately had probable cause to stop Walker, place her under arrest and conduct a search, according to Indiana law.

The search turned up a black zipper bag containing 3.36 grams of a heroin and fentanyl mixture, as well as multiple small baggies and $150 cash, the affidavit stated.

During post-arrest questioning, Walker admitted she had delivered the heroin to the 25-year-old, who gave it to the suspected overdose victim, the officer wrote.

Walker said she obtained three to four grams of heroin at a time from a supplier in Marion County, the affidavit stated.

After getting a search warrant for Walker’s phone, the detective found text messages that indicated she had made at least 16 trips to Indianapolis to purchase a total of 53 grams of heroin in April, the detective wrote.

Walker was ordered held without bond after originally being charged with dealing in a narcotic drug as a Level 4 felony, operating a motor vehicle after forfeiture of license as a Level 5 felony, and possession of a narcotic drug as a Level 6 felony. The Level 4 felony was the most serious among charges Walker faced.

Under the original charges, she could have received a sentence of more than 20 years in prison.

But on Sept. 19, Walker accepted a plea agreement by admitting guilt to the most serious drug-dealing charge. In exchange, all other charges in the case were dropped.

There’s still a pending case against Walker before Superior Court 2 Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Tighe Coriden.

The Level 6 felony, filed in regard for the first time Walker was stopped for driving without a license, has the potential to add another 2½ years on top of Worton’s sentencing. A pre-trial conference on the matter is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 30.

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