Two arrested in Donora overdose death

May 19, 2013
James Darnell Foster, left, and Maya Lawson

Two Donora residents were arrested late Friday by borough police in connection with the heroin overdose death of a 55-year-old Carroll Township man earlier that day.

James Darnell Foster, 21, and Maya Lawson, 30, both of 233 Allen Ave., are accused of selling Barry Daube stamp bags of heroin that killed him Friday.

Borough police were called about 6:40 p.m. to Fifth Street near Short Street for a report of a man who had overdosed and was unresponsive. They found Daube inside a van, seated in the driver’s seat and slumped over to the right.

An officer tried to wake him several times. His vital signs were checked and it was determined he was not breathing and had no pulse. When police attempted to use an automated external defibrillator on Daube, the machine indicated “No shock advised.”

When ambulance personnel arrived, they pronounced Daube dead and notified the Washington County coroner.

Police talked with Daube’s nephew, Ridge Daube, who had found his uncle, and Michael Stephany. Stephany reportedly told police that he was with Barry Daube when the Carroll man made a telephone call to his drug supplier about an hour earlier. Barry Daube and Stephany got into Daube’s van and drove to Fifth and Allen. Stephany got out of the van, and Daube reportedly told him he was going to purchase heroin and he would be back in five minutes.

Stephany told police he started walking around in an attempt to find his acquaintance when Daube did not return. Stephany spotted the van parked on Fifth at Short.

Ridge Daube, who told authorities he had been riding his skateboard in the area, was already in the van and had found his uncle there, unresponsive, police said. He asked Stephany to call 911.

When Barry Daube’s girlfriend, Cheri Bobin, arrived, she gave written permission for police to search for numbers on his cellphone. Police discovered that two calls had been placed to a Donora number. The number was checked through 911 and determined to come back to 233 Allen Ave.

Police obtained a search warrant for the home. Officers knocked at the door but received no answer. Police used a battering ram to enter the home. Once the door was breached, police took Lawson into custody after she emerged from a back bedroom.

As police were securing the front of the house, they could hear yelling from the back of the house. Foster was found in a back bedroom, face down on a bed with his arms behind his head. He was taken into custody.

Another Donora police officer found a pair of gray sweat pants that he had seen Foster throw out the back door of the home as police went through the front door. Foster then allegedly slammed the back door on police and went back inside the house. Inside the sweat pants, police found 24 stamp bags of suspected heroin.

Both Foster and Lawson were arraigned before District Judge Jay Weller on charges of drug delivery resulting in death and possession and possession with intent to deliver heroin. Foster is also charged with hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence. Both were placed in the Washington County jail on $100,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is set for May 30 before District Judge Mark Wilson.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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