Lawson Pleads Guilty In Homicide Case

Lawson Pleads Guilty In Homicide Case


End Nears As Man Pleads Guilty In Death Of Troy Man

By Lonny Frost

Inside the Bradford County Court, Zachary John Lawson plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter.  Lawson’s plea relates to the case against him in the heroin overdose that killed Michael David Virgin of Troy, in July of 2011.

Lawson has been held in the Bradford County Prison since his arrest in 2011 and he will be sentenced on March 6 at 3:00 PM for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Virgin.  Involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

In September of 2013, Lawson was facing a felony of the first degree, and if found guilty, Lawson would have been convicted of third degree murder.

Third degree murder is a killing that involves grows recklessness rather than an intentional malicious act.  The standard sentencing guidelines for third degree murder in PA, ranges from 20-40 years, assuming no prior record.

However, the entry of a guilty plea, Lawson will face a maximum of 5 years and his sentencing may affect his parole eligibility in other cases where he has been sentenced.

Drugs a growing problem across American. Photo by Lonny Frost
Drugs a growing problem across American. Photo by Lonny Frost

During the recent court proceedings, Lawson said he provided the heroin to Virgin, they used it, and Lawson left, Bradford County District Attorney, Daniel Barrett said.

Barrett also stated that the victim’s family members will be able to provide testimony at the March sentencing.

This case unfolded back in July of 2011, when Zachary Lawson, made a delivery of heroin that lead to the death of 29 year old,  Michael Virgin, who was a resident of Troy.

State police trooper Nick Madigan, had testified back in 2013, that Zachary Lawson had cried when he heard about Michael’s death.  Also at the time of Lawson’s preliminary hearing,  trooper Madigan reported that Zachary did not show any ill will or hatred towards  Michael Virgin, who had died when he took an overdose of heroin provided by Lawson

According to records Lawson had been charged in 2011 by Troy Borough Police with “drug delivery resulting in death” in connection with the heroin overdose of Virgin.   The death of Michael Virgin occurred on July 5, 2011 in an apartment on Elmira Street in Troy. At that time it was stated that the offense was graded as a first degree felony and Lawson would be convicted of third degree murder if found guilty.

Article Continues Below Sponsor
View the Latest Print Edition in Full Color Online

Lawson’s 2011 charges in that case also included, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Back on July 7, 2011, Bradford County Coroner Thomas Carman reported  the cause of Michael’s death was an accidental drug overdose, which was later amended to homicide.

At that point police executed a search warrant and seized Virgin’s personal cell phone.   Police later discovered text messages between Virgin and an individual known as “Cracker,” who was later identified as Zackary Lawson, that detailed a drug transaction between the two men on the day of Virgin’s death.

On Jan. 19, 2012, Lawson told state police that on the day of Virgin’s death, he sold Virgin two bundles of heroin and 10 syringes for $345 outside of his apartment in Troy.

According to an affidavit, Lawson had also told state police that he warned Virgin “1,000 times” that the heroin he was buying was very potent, and that Virgin shouldn’t be trying to use as much as he was used to. Lawson told police Virgin responded by saying “he was fine,” and “not to worry about it.” Lawson even told police that the packets he delivered to Virgin on the day of the incident were the “God Father” brand of heroin.

An affidavit also stated that illicit drug packaging and paraphernalia, was found near Virgin’s body. Those items included hypodermic syringes, a metal spoon containing a cotton filter.  Also empty wax paper packets, which included markings, specifically a “God Father” stamping.  (There were also other drugs found at the scene.  However, that information did not have any affect on the September 2013 hearing.)

So now, January of 2014, marks another tragedy that heroin has played in the destruction of two individuals’ lives.  Family and friends continue to mourn the loss of Michael Virgin, due to a drug overdose.  May Lawson’s plea and the March sentencing be a step in their healing process.  As for the family and friends of Zackary Lawson, they to mourn silently, not just for the role that Zackary played in the death of Michael, but for the destruction of Lawson’s life because of drugs.

The staff at Tioga Freedomist, hopes by covering these types of stories in detail, it will help keep the public aware of the growing drug problem that plaques every city, town and school across America.

Sadly drugs continue to destroy more and more lives.  If you have a problem with drugs or alcohol,l we encourage you to seek help.  If you are a student who is taking or selling drugs, seek help as well.   Start today by telling  a trusted family member, a close friend, a teacher or a school counselor.  Do not play around with drugs, sooner or later it will destroy your life.

Our prayers continue to go out to Michael’s family, as well as, to Zackary’s family.