Man to serve 46 months for providing drugs that led to Norwich mother's overdose

Twenty-year-old Kyleigh Manfredi, a 2015 graduate of Montville High School, had a reason to kick heroin — a 1-year-old son she adored.

She stayed drug-free for almost three months in 2017 and had almost completed an outpatient treatment program when her boyfriend returned from his own drug treatment program, according to a court document.

"K.M. relapsed, as nearly all addicts do, but this time it cost her life," Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Pierpoint Jr. wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Manfredi died from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl on Sept. 13, 2017, leaving little Kayson without his mother.

On Friday, a 23-year-old Hartford man who provided the heroin and fentanyl that led to Manfredi's death in Norwich was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 46 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.

Felix "Pablo" Lopez, 23, had remained incarcerated since he was arrested on Nov. 14, 2017, by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Norwich Police. He pleaded guilty on April 5, 2018, to possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Though he had no prior convictions, he had pending drug charges in state court.

According to sentencing documents, Manfredi was at an appointment to obtain the opioid maintenance drug Suboxone when she arranged to get heroin by texting a man she had met at Stonington Institute, which provides treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in southeastern Connecticut.

The man, identified in the documents only as Charles B., had purchased drugs from Lopez in Hartford in the past. He told Manfredi he would give her heroin if she gave him a ride to Hartford on Sept. 12, 2017. Manfredi and the boyfriend, Jordan Contillo, drove Charles B. to Bartholomew Avenue in Hartford, where he purchased heroin and crack from Lopez.

Contillo and Manfredi received 11 bags of heroin, some of which they used together, according to the sentencing documents. Contillo dropped off Manfredi at her mother's home in Norwich about 10:40 p.m. and at 11:38, she texted Charles B. to thank him and said the bags of heroin were "fire."

A cousin found Manfredi unresponsive at 8 a.m. the next morning and she was declared dead at the scene. She had empty Suboxone foil packs and three empty glassine envelopes in her purse.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that her death was accidental and the result of acute intoxication due to the combined effects of fentanyl and heroin.

"A son has to grow up without his mother because of the defendant," the prosecutor said in arguing for a lengthy sentence. "A mother and father have to bury their daughter."

He wrote, "The fact that Manfredi voluntarily sought drugs as part of her relapse does not absolve the defendant of his culpability in distributing a substance that ultimately poisoned her."

In the defense's sentencing memorandum, Lopez's attorney, federal defender Charles F. Willson, noted that neither Charles B. nor Manfredi's boyfriend nor the third person were charged, even though, the defense attorney points out, "they all possessed heroin together and they conspired to possession heroin, and the friend, who had a criminal record, distributed heroin." He claimed also that there is no evidence Lopez knowingly distributed heroin laced with fentanyl.

Willson wrote that Lopez has been thinking a lot about Manfredi and her family and knows the pain that comes with loss. His 11-year-old sister was struck and killed on her bicycle and his best friend was fatally shot by someone trying to rob him of a gold chain, according to the memo. His mother spent time in prison for a domestic violence incident and the family was evicted from their housing several times when he was young.

"Felix also knows first-hand the risks that come with opiates, as his brother nearly died from an infected needle since Felix's arrest," says the memo. "This series of events clearly has impacted this young man."

k.florin@theday

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