Jury hears 911 call about fatal drug overdose in trial of Robinson man

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A federal prosecutor played an agonized 911 call by a mother who had just lost her son to a possible drug overdose today at the first full day of testimony in the case against accused pill thief and pusher David Best.

Mr. Best, 28, of Robinson, faces charges of conspiracy to distribute Opana and oxycodone, possession with intent to distribute those narcotics, brandishing of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, burglary of a pharmacy, drug possession and selling drugs that caused a death.

His defense attorney, Stanton Levenson, said Mr. Best is only contesting the firearms charge and the accusation that he sold drugs that caused a death.

The jury heard a recording of a May 9, 2012, call from the mother of Christopher Radford, of Economy.

She said her son, who had just completed detoxification a few days before, was not breathing.

"Please hurry!" she urged the 911 dispatcher.

"He's not responding at all," she said, as her husband tried to perform chest compressions. The dispatcher urged her to get her son off of a bed and on to the floor for more effective compressions. "He can't move him, he's such a big guy," she responded.

"Oh, God, oh! Oh, God, oh! No!" she said repeatedly during the minutes-long call. At one point, she whispered "Dear God, he's gone."

The dispatcher said that the compressions could help. "Keep doing that, he said it's helping him," the mother told the father.

Economy police Officer David Farah said he responded to the scene, and made efforts to revive Radford, but could not.

The officer said that six weeks later, he had occasion to question Mr. Best about other incidents and the death. "He said it was very upsetting to him that people were accusing him of selling the drugs that caused Chris Radford's death," said Officer Farah. He said that Mr. Best admitted that he had, in the past, sold narcotics, but denied selling pills to Radford in May.

Mr. Levenson said that Mr. Best "will be doing some substantial prison time," but that he wasn't responsible for Radford's death. The defendant didn't sell Radford any drugs he took at that time, and the deceased had other health problems that caused his demise, the attorney said.

If found guilty of selling drugs that resulted in death, Mr. Best would face a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Among other things, Mr. Best is accused of breaking into the same Med-Fast pharmacy in Baden three times. Twice he climbed down the exhaust vent of an adjacent Chinese restaurant and used a hacksaw to breach the pharmacy, and the third time he cut his way in from the hair salon on the other side, prosecutors have said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Economy Borough and Cranberry police investigated the alleged ring.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen is prosecuting the case before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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