YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - The verdict is in. A Trumbull County jury has found James L. Patterson of Youngstown guilty of wreckless homicide in the death of 17-year-old Christine Sheesley of Girard.
Trumbull County Prosecutors and Girard Police Detectives say Patterson was the drug dealer who provided the heroin that killed the teenager on April 6, 2012. It was the victim's 17th birthday.
It took the jury a total of about five and a half hours, over two days to return multiple guilty verdicts against the Youngstown man.
Patterson was facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death, but the jury found him not guilty on that charge. However, they did convict him of the lesser offense of wreckless homicide.
As Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald Rice revoked Patterson's bond, and sheriff's deputies placed him in handcuffs to escort him back to jail, he refused to take responsibility for the crimes.
Patterson told 21 News, it's the victim's friend, Tyler Stevens who stuck the syringe in her arm, and it's Stevens who has already pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the case.
"I don't know why they charged me when he did everything. He copped a guilty plea to everything, so I don't know why they charged me? I don't have a victim in this," said Patterson.
But Chuck Morrow, an Assistant Prosecutor for Trumbull County said, "Patterson is the person that put the ball in motion. He's the person that lit the fuse. But for him, Tyler doesn't have the heroin in his hands. It's doesn't get injected into Christine. So he clearly doesn't want to accept responsibility for the fact that he is engaging in illegal drug trafficking."
Patterson was also found guilty of at least six other crimes, including corrupting another with drugs and multiple counts of trafficking in heroin in the vicinity of a juvenile.
Attorney James Lanzo represents Patterson and said they accept the jury's verdict.
"Of course my client has a right to appeal and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it on Thursday," Lanzo said.
The victim's mother, Judy Sheesley became emotional when she heard the jury's verdicts and said she's thankful Patterson has been found guilty because now there's justice for her daughter.
Patterson's sentencing hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 23 at 10 a.m.
The prosecutor said Patterson could be sentenced to in excess of at least 20 years behind bars.