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