Jury Trial February 5-8, 2018

On February 7, 2018, following a three day jury trial at the McKean County Courthouse, Roberto Hernandez  Perez was found guilty of all counts.  The jury convicted the defendant of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death – Felony 1; 4 counts of Delivery of Fentanyl – Felonies; Involuntary Manslaughter – Misdemeanor 1; 3 Counts of Reckless Endangering Another Person – Misdemeanor 2; and 4 counts of Conspiracy Delivery of a controlled substance – Felonies for the death of Derek Clay.  Judge John H. Pavlock sentenced Perez to 8 years to 16 years in State Corrections.  

It is very likely these types of trials will become more common in our county.  The drugs we have seen in the last couple years have increased in potency.  The law in Pennsylvania provides that any person who delivers a drug that ultimately causes the death of another person is criminally liable – even if he or she is not the person who delivered the drug directly to the victim.  This allows us to prosecute not only the person who delivers the drug directly but also higher-level dealers who have previously felt safe from prosecution due to their distance from the actual delivery.  We will continue to use the statute of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death to prosecute those who deliver controlled substances that cause someone’s death.

Nearly every family has been impacted by the delivery of illegal drugs.  Any case is, of course, about the actions of a particular defendant.  However, the deceased and his or her family cannot be forgotten.  With each death comes the thought that we are close to losing a generation.  Each person who has died has left behind a grieving family and the impact of drugs on them cannot be fully appreciated by those of us who have not suffered such a loss.   The reality in this case was that family members of Mr. Clay heard, for the first time, details of his death.    

This case was the result of dedicated police work by officers of the Bradford City Police Department and, specifically, Sgt. Todd Erickson and Assistant Chief Michael Ward.  I have gratitude for the attentiveness of the jury who sat through three days of testimony and presentation of evidence that was unpleasant and tedious. 

Illegal drug activity continues to be a problem for McKean County and I hope dealers take note of this case.  Perez' co-defendant, Amber McKinney, pled guilty to Drug Delivery and Involuntary Manslaughter and was sentenced to 30 months to 60 months incarceration in State Corrections.