By Joe Gorman
Phylis Porter said true justice for her daughter, who died of a heroin overdose, is for Jamal Vaughn’s children to be taken from him in the same way.
Vaughn pleaded guilty to selling the drug that caused 22-year-old Jessica Porter’s death.
Speaking Thursday at the sentencing of Vaughn, 28, of Oak Lane, Phylis Porter said her daughter was robbed of her life, and Jessica’s family was robbed of her because of her death Feb. 14, 2012.
“There is no justice in this courtroom, but maybe someday someone like you will take your children away,” Phylis Porter said. “Then there will be justice.”
Sentencing was before Judge Lou D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Vaughn was sentenced to 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, 12 drug trafficking counts, an illegal gun possession charge and three drug possession charges — part of five separate criminal cases beginning in 2011. He pleaded guilty to the charges June 10.
Vaughn also pleaded guilty to charges that he was selling cocaine and heroin on the East and South sides between April and December 2011. Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond said that in one of the cases, officers serving a search warrant after arresting Vaughn found stolen guns and computers and other electronic equipment. He said those items were stolen by people to either sell for cash to pay for their drug habit or to trade for drugs.
Desmond said at least twice while Vaughn was out on bond, he was arrested again on drug trafficking charges, and one of those times was when Jessica Porter received the overdose of heroin that killed her.
Desmond said she went to Vaughn’s home with her boyfriend and injected herself with heroin. When she became ill, instead of calling for help, Vaughn ushered her away, Desmond said.
“He simply grabbed her, threw her in the car and said ‘get her out of here,’” Desmond said. She died later at the hospital, Desmond said.
Desmond was recommending a sentence of between 12 and 15 years because of Vaughn’s lengthy criminal record of selling drugs and to send a message that drug dealers will be held accountable if the people they sell drugs to die.
“ happen,’” Desmond said.
Tom Zena, Vaughn’s attorney, said a sentence of seven years was appropriate. He said none of the offenses his client pleaded to was violent, and none of the guns police found at Vaughn’s home was used by him. He urged Judge D’Apolito to focus on sentencing Vaughn rather than sending messages to other people.
Vaughn apologized and said circumstances led him to a life of dealing drugs. When Judge D’Apolito asked him what circumstances, Vaughn said he was one of seven children whose father was in prison. He said he spent a lot of time on the streets around people who were selling drugs, and he decided to do it.
“My mentality was this is what they’re doing, so I wanted to do it,” Vaughn said.
Judge D’Apolito said others have come from poorer circumstances, and they do not sell drugs or break the law so it was no excuse.
Phylis Porter said her family has been shattered since her daughter died. She said she understood that her daughter made the choice to take the drugs that led to her death, but it was a choice that took her life and cost her 3-year-old daughter a mother.