Why a Penn State student pleaded guilty in the drug death of his friend |

Why a Penn State student pleaded guilty in the drug death of his friend

Getty Images

Former Penn State student Brian Lavallee pleaded guilty for his role in the death of his friend and fellow student Michael Walsh.

“This is a sad case, judge,” Steven Trialonas told Judge Jonathan Grine on Thursday. “Michael Walsh and Brian Lavallee were friends. Both used drugs and a mutual friend called Brian’s parents to tell them about his drug addiction. His parents came to take him to rehab and like most addicts do, Brian got high before going to rehab.”

Trialonas, Lavallee’s attorney, further explained that Lavallee told his friends to keep his drugs while he was at rehab. According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by State College police, Brandon Wideman searched for Walsh after he woke up the next day and saw that he had not returned.

Wideman found Walsh unconscious in the driver’s seat of his car on Penn State’s campus with a bottle of fentanyl in his hand on March 26, 2016. Montour County Coroner Scott Lynn pronounced Walsh brain dead the same day.

“Tragically, Michael Walsh used some of the drugs. It was fatal and he passed,” Trialonas said. “For the past two years, Brian has been self-imprisoned, which is far worse than anything we could’ve sentenced him to.”

Michael Walsh’s father spoke about his son prior to Lavallee’s sentencing.

“First thing I want to say is I’m angry with my son, also. He took the drugs Brian gave him. Pretty mad at that. Problem is, with his mistake, he died,” Walsh’s father said. “There was a time for action and a time for words. When there was a time for action, there was no action taken. For (Lavallee) to find forgiveness, it’s going to take action. Not words.”

Lavallee responded and said, “Words can’t express the sorrow I feel today.”

Judge Grine sentenced Lavallee to 24 months of probation, which can be terminated after 12 months if he complies. He also sentenced Lavallee to pay a $100 fine and pay the cost of prosecution.

Lavallee previously wrote a letter of apology to Walsh’s parents, which Grine sentenced him to do if he had not.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.