RACINE — A Caledonia woman accused of providing a fatal dose of drugs to a man, and pawning her ex-boyfriend’s mother’s jewelry, will spend three years in prison.
On Monday, Racine County Circuit Court Judge Mark Nielsen sentenced Jana Mehevic, 31, to three years in prison and one year extended supervision for manufacturing/delivering cocaine — the charge attributed to the drugs dealt to 33-year-old Ryan Spencer of Racine, who died on Feb. 18, 2018 from an overdose.
Mehevic, 31, initially faced a first-degree reckless homicide for the death of Spencer. An autopsy found that Spencer died of an acute mixed drug intoxication of cocaine and fentanyl.
Mehevic’s homicide charge was dismissed. She was instead charged with two counts of manufacturing/delivering cocaine, possession of narcotic drugs, theft of property worth more than $10,000, and driving a vehicle without consent.
Aside from the cocaine sentence, the remainder of the sentences, which are shorter than three years, will be served concurrently, meaning Mehevic will serve a total of three years in prison, minus credit for any time served.
Cellphone records obtained by police show that Spencer exchanged text messages with Mehevic about purchasing drugs in Milwaukee with 37-year-old Matthew J. Halkowitz.
Halkowitz also faced a homicide charge for Spencer’s death, but as part of a plea deal, that charge was dismissed. Halkowitz, who is already serving time in prison on a different drug charge, was sentenced on Friday to an additional three years behind bars for his role in Spencer’s death.
Mehevic also reportedly stole and pawned Halkowitz’s mother’s jewelry, worth from $30,000 to $40,000, and drove her car to the pawn shop. Another incident involved Mehevic selling blank gift cards for cash.
After Nielsen handed down the sentence, Mehevic began to sob as she was taken into custody, mouthing “I love you” as she turned to friends and family in the back of the courtroom to say goodbye.
“The assignment of responsibility in this context is difficult. You are all adults and know better,” Nielsen said.
Kylie Christensen, the mother of Spencer’s son, and Spencer’s mother, Rebecca Madsen, asked the judge to impose a prison sentence for Mehevic. Christensen said Mehevic’s criminal record shows she had not learned from her prior convictions.
Mehevic was convicted of resisting/obstructing an officer in 2014, felony forgery in 2010, misdemeanor hit-and-run in 2010 and a felony count keeping a drug house in 2010.
“I feel probation is like giving you a get out of jail free card,” Madsen said. “I feel prison is the best place for you.”
A letter written by Lisa Mehevic, Jana’s mother, was read by another family member. The letter said that Jana had been working hard on her sobriety, seeking mental health and drug treatment, and attending weekly meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous. She “respectfully requested” probation.
A friend Mehevic met while receiving treatment also spoke, calling and Mehevic “fun, creative, caring, generous and hardworking.”
Weeping during much of the hearing, Mehevic addressed the court, and apologized to Spencer’s family and her own, saying “the ripple effect is great.”
“All that I can say is that I am deeply sorry, and I carry around a lot of shame and pain because I lost a friend to the same addiction that I fought, and I’m here still and he’s not,” Mehevic said.
Probation vs. prison
Racine County Assistant District Attorney Micha Schwab called Mehevic a “master manipulator,” and said that Mehevic’s prior criminal record shows the need for prison time. She also called Mehevic a threat to the community, noting that Mehevic was released from supervision six months before Spencer’s death.
“I don’t think there is anybody who would disagree in this room that the common theme in Jana’s behavior is her drug addiction,” Schwab said. “Ms. Mehevic, it was clear, would stop at nothing to do drugs.”
Mehevic’s attorney, Laura Walker, said that Mehevic, Halkowitz and Spencer were all drug addicts, working together to get high. “This drug is so insidious that people are willing to stick a needle in their arm knowing it could kill them, yet they still take it,” Walker said.
Walker said Mehevic’s criminal record spoke to someone facing addiction. “She deeply regrets that her friend — and he was a friend — was killed,” Walker said.
Walker asked for probation for Mehevic, saying that she has demonstrated that she can be success while on bond.
But Nielsen said he felt that prison time is necessary and wished Mehevic luck.
“You have a bright future ahead of you,” Nielsen said.
“All that I can say is that I am deeply sorry, and I carry around a lot of shame and pain because I lost a friend to the same addiction that I fought, and I’m here still and he’s not.” Jana Mehevic