LIMA — A 26-year-old Lima was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for her role in providing drugs to a man who was found dead of a drug overdose at a local homeless shelter nearly a year ago.
Andrea Croft was indicted in February on charges of involuntary manslaughter and trafficking in fentanyl in connection with the death of 26-year-old Shawn Hutchinson. Hutchinson’s body was discovered on Sept. 6, 2018, at The Mission, a homeless shelter at 216 E. Wayne St., Lima.
According to court records, Hutchinson was found deceased on his bed with a hypodermic needle in his right hand. Detectives determined the man died of an apparent drug overdose, documents show.
A co-defendant in the case, Derek Kitchen, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter. Kitchen, 27, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a single fifth-degree felony charge of trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound. He will be sentenced Sept. 30.
Croft pleaded guilty earlier this year to an amended charge of aggravated possession of methamphetamine and the illegal conveyance of drugs into the Allen County jail, both third-degree felonies. In exchange for the state’s dismissal of the involuntary manslaughter charge, Croft pleaded guilty to a Bill of Information charge of corrupting another with drugs, a second-degree felony that carries a mandatory two-year prison term. She also pleaded guilty to aggravated trafficking and trafficking in cocaine.
Jerry Hutchinson, the dead man’s father, addressed the court before Croft was sentenced.
“Andrea, I will never forgive you for this,” he said. “It’s been almost a year since our lives came crashing down on us. Although you weren’t responsible, you were a big part of this. A part of me died when Shawn died.”
Defense Attorney Bill Kluge said Croft has battled drug addiction for years, not unlike many other members of the community. “Once she is off the drugs, I believe she will be a contributing member of society,” Kluge said. “I believe Andrea is salvageable.”
Croft extended her “deepest condolences” to the Hutchinson family and apologized to her own family and to the community as a whole.
“All that is left is for me to battle my addiction and become a better member of society,” she told the court.
Judge Jeffrey Reed said, “We’ve seen too many of these cases. I don’t know when the community is going to say ‘enough is enough.’ Our drug problem is basically a mass killing.”
Police believe Hutchinson had been in contact with Croft regarding the sale of heroin and that he had asked her to bring drugs to his apartment. Detectives concluded that Croft “did knowingly furnish Hutchinson with suspected heroin and the hypodermic needle,” causing his death, according to court documents.
Croft reportedly told police she had purchased the drugs from Kitchen and that he had furnished the hypodermic needle as well.