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Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Parents of drug overdose victim forgive woman implicated in death

By Margie Wuebker
Grieving parents hugged the 22-year-old woman implicated in the drug-related death of their son and offered forgiveness following an emotional sentencing Wednesday afternoon in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
Natasha M. Chiles, 319 Leona St., received community control sanctions after telling Judge Jeffrey Ingraham she has made dramatic changes in her lifestyle since the Sept. 8 death of her friend, Tyler Christian.
Battling tears, Pastor Randy and Trish Christian took turns at the podium before sentencing. They shared heartbreak but hope for a better future.
"I am thankful for what you shared here in the courtroom today," Randy Christian said. "Our prayer for you and everyone else who has looked to drugs for answers is that you turn from drugs and turn toward Jesus Christ."
The couple, who pastor The Lord's Church in Celina, brought several supporters who are overcoming drug addiction through participation in a support group established after Tyler's death.
"We don't blame you and we don't hate you," Trish Christian tearfully told Chiles. "We care about you and we want you to know that."
Chiles pleaded no contest July 20 to reckless homicide, a third-degree felony, and trafficking in drugs, a fifth-degree felony. She could have been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for both counts.
Emergency personnel responded to the Orchard Avenue home where Tyler Christian and Chiles resided the morning of Sept. 8 for a "non-breather." Squad members discovered the 19-year-old man in respiratory distress from what appeared to be a drug overdose. He was rushed to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys and pronounced dead a short time later.
An investigation revealed Chiles acquired heroin on Sept. 7 and provided it to Christian. She reportedly failed to seek timely medical or emergency intervention when he exhibited signs of distress.
Investigators learned she made numerous calls to acquaintances in regard to his condition over the course of several hours before calling 911.
Toxicology tests indicated the young man's death was due to a morphine overdose. In a stipulation of facts filed with the court, Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox indicated the painkiller is commonly sold in place of heroin and has similar effects on the body.
"I was at a very bad point in life at that time," Chiles told the court. "Tyler was a close friend of mine and we were making bad choices."
Turning toward his parents, she added, "I know you lost your son and as a mother I cannot imagine your pain. I want to get my life back on track so I can be a mother my children will be proud of some day."
Defense attorneys Richard Delzeith and Matthew Gilmore said Chiles has made remarkable progress since the incident. In addition to remaining "clean" since September, she has sought counseling, cooperated with juvenile court authorities in regard to her three young children, obtained an operator's license, worked two jobs and prepared to take a scheduled GED exam.
"She has an excellent support system - something she has never had before," Delzeith said of his client.
Ingraham sentenced Chiles to five years of supervision - the maximum allowable - plus 90 days in the Mercer County Jail to be served on notice from her probation officer if she violates sanctions. She also must continue drug and alcohol treatment. Her operator's license was suspended for the minimum mandatory period of six months. The judge also ordered restitution to the Christians totaling $11,957.20 for funeral and related expenses.
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