MERCER – Before sentencing Nicoletta Robinson to 9 years and 3 months to 27 years Friday in the fatal overdose of Margaret McConnell, Common Pleas Judge Tedd C. Nesbit called the case “heart-breaking.”

Nesbit set the sentence in the aggravated range because he said the methadone sale was a business deal, and that he did not believe Robinson was trying to help McConnell.

Defense Attorney Stanley Booker said he plans to appeal.

“We still stand by her innocence,” Booker said. “We don’t believe for a second that methadone killed (McConnell); there were a lot of other reasons.”

Nesbit said the children of the victim and defendant are suffering: McConnell, 32, of Coolspring Township, has two boys, 4-year-old Jack and 1-yearold Chance, who will never see their mother again. Robinson, 34, of Youngstown, has six children, ages 4 months to 15, who will see their mother only in a prison visiting room for a decade or more.

A jury on March 11 convicted Robinson of drug delivery resulting in death, aggravated assault, criminal use of a communication facility, possession with intent to deliver, simple assault and reckless endangerment for selling McConnell 250 ml of Methadone for $250, which a forensic pathologist said caused her fatal overdose.

In setting a sentence, the judge said he considered several mitigating factors: Robinson’s former drug use, her prior sexual abuse and loss of children, her depression and PTSD, and the fact that she has six children who need her.

On the other hand, he said Robinson was disrespectful to the court, calling the case “bull s---” in her pre-sentence investigation. He also said he saw no remorse from the defendant until she stood up in court Friday.

Robinson also has a prior record of five convictions for offenses including disorderly conduct, corruption of minors, attempt to commit endangering the welfare of a person, and receiving stolen property.

The court also considered victim impact letters sent to the judge from McConnell’s family. Seven members of Robinson’s family testified to the impact the loss of their loved one has had on the family.

In testimony Friday, family members expressed anger at Robinson and described McConnell as being able to “light up a room” and “extremely intelligent.”

“(Robinson) took a life for profit,” said Donna Charles, McConnell’s mother. “You took a mom away from her two little boys.”

Charles said McConnell had a future with her boys and that Robinson took that from her.

“It’s not fair that her babies will be without a mom and you have lived your life for 22 months,” Charles said to Robinson in court. “I will forever hold hatred in my heart that you put there. You took a life.”

Charles and her family members begged the judge to sentence Robinson to the maximum allowed. Defense attorney Stanley Booker asked the judge for concurrent sentences, not in the aggravated range.

Six of Robinson’s friends and family members testified on the defense side. Robinson’s friend, Joanna Button, a former addict, said Robinson was there for her every step of the way during her trials as an addict.

“If it wasn’t for Nikki, I wouldn’t be living,” Button told the judge. “Without her, I don’t know where I would be or my child would be.”

Robinson started her statement with an apology to McConnell’s family.

“I am truly sorry for your loss,” Robinson said. “I don’t blame you for how you feel about me. “

Robinson told the judge McConnell had reminded her of herself.

“There’s no excuse for my actions,” Robinson said. “The whole time I knew her, all I wanted to do was help. I went about it the wrong way.”

Follow Melissa Klaric on Twitter and Facebook @HeraldKlaric, email: mklaric@sharonherald.com

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