A Hofstra University student is facing manslaughter charges after prosecutors said he injected his girlfriend with so much heroin she suffered a fatal overdose, then waited 17 hours before trying to get her help.
Prosecutors said Joseph Joudah, 19, of Islip Terrace caused the death of Olivia McClellan, a 19-year-old fellow student from California, when he injected her with a fatal dose of the powerful narcotic in her dorm room on April 18.
Joudah, who faces several other charges including criminally negligent homicide, criminal injection of a narcotic, reckless endangerment and drug possession, appeared in a Nassau County courtroom Friday. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said Joudah went to the dorm room and injected the drugs into McClellan's arm under the belief she had used prescription medicine and had tried to commit suicide with heroin in the past.
After injecting her, Singas said Joudah saw her exhibit the telltale signs of an overdose. Her eyes rolled back into her head, her breathing became labored and her legs started shaking uncontrollably. Joudah, who had also injected himself with the drug, stayed in the room for about three hours and left.
He allegedly called her cellphone to no avail the following day. He eventually called Hofstra University police, who went to her room that afternoon and found her dead, Singas said.
Medical examiners later ruled that McClellan, who had a single needle mark on her arm, died from a heroin overdose.
"This is a tragic case that reminds us that heroin knows no boundaries,” Singas said. “This defendant allegedly injected (the victim) with heroin and failed to get her timely help knowing that she was in the throes of an overdose and alone in her room.”
At a hearing Friday, Joudah’s attorney called the charges unprecedented and questioned the timing of his the indictment against Joudah, just days before Singas’ election for the district attorney's seat.
Joudah's attorney added that his client was distraught over the death and the injection was consensual.
In a statement, Hofstra called McClellan's death "heartbreaking for our entire community." The school said the circumstances in the csae "are unusual," but that it remains vigilant about providing drug and alcohol awareness, education and prevention programs for its students.
Those programs include a new full-time educator, mandatory drug and alcohol awareness training for all new students, bystander intervention training, awareness weeks, an intervention program and communication and events for parents, commuter students and other campus groups.