D.A. ponders appeal after heroin charges are withdrawn against a Tyrone woman

The Blair County District Attorney, David Gorman, is pondering an appeal of a judge’s decision last week in a drug case against a Tyrone woman.
Visiting Judge John Reilly okayed a request by prosecutors to withdraw charges against Lindsey Nicole Wills, but also ruled the charges could not be refiled.
The decision came when defense attorney John Sifford told the court on Jan. 10 that he had not seen lab tests on drugs seized in the case. Assistant District Attorney Doug Keating asked the judge for a delay and asked for the charges to be withdrawn while awaiting the return of the test results. The judge agreed to the withdrawal of the charges but would not grant the delay or allow the charges to be refiled.
Wills was facing three different charges which had been combined into one case.
The Tyrone Police Department handled the investigation on one of the charges while the Blair County Drug Task force handled the others, according to Gorman.
Tyrone Police Chief Joseph Beachem said his department was ready for the trial and had received tests back from its lab on July 20, 2004. The Tyrone investigation stemmed from an alleged April 22, 2004 drug buy. The other charges involved the alleged sale of drugs on two separate dates in February of 2004. Beachem said he didn’t know the case was going to trial until the day the jury was being selected and Sifford brought his concerns to the court’s attention.
“I want to make it clear, we were ready to go,” said Beachem. “This was not a (Tyrone) police department mistake.”
Beachem said a county detective hadn’t submitted evidence for testing involving the other two charges.
In a phone interview on Monday, District Attorney Gorman concurred with Chief Beachem’s assertions that Tyrone had its test results ready but tests were not available regarding the two charges from the drug task force investigation.
Gorman explained testing is done on substances seized in drug cases to verify the substance and the weight of the amount of drugs seized. According to Gorman, Wills’ case involved heroin. Gorman said weight testing is done since the amount of jail time if a suspect is convicted is based in part on the amount of drugs involved.
“We feel the judge erred,” said Gorman.
Gorman explained his office has 30 days from the time the decision is entered into the court record to decide on an appeal. He said an appeal could take one to two years. At that point, the question wouldn’t be the availability of the tests. Gorman said all the lab tests would be available at any future trial. According to Gorman, the question would be the viability of other components of the case, such as informant’s testimony and availability.
“Informants aren’t reliable,” said Gorman. “Where are they going to be (when the case is ready to go to trial after an appeal)?” asked Gorman.