The parents of an Akron man who fatally overdosed on drugs said they think the man who pleaded guilty in the death of both their son and a Hudson woman would still be selling drugs if he wasn’t behind bars.
“You’d be killing everybody!” Ricky Knotts, the father of Jordan Knotts, who died in July 2016, said to Shawndre Springfield on Tuesday during Springfield’s sentencing. “There’s no stopping. It’s all you!”
Knotts and his family urged Summit County Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones to sentence Springfield to prison for as long as possible.
Springfield, 20, pleaded guilty in November to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, with prosecutors agreeing to drop several other drug charges after he was sentenced. The maximum he faced was 22 years in prison.
Jones sentenced Springfield to eight years in prison after attorney Kirk Migdal reminded her she agreed to this term when Springfield entered his plea.
Prosecutors say Springfield sold carfentanil in July 2016 to Jordan Knotts, 22, who died after taking it. Police tracked the drugs back to Springfield and charged him with corrupting another with drugs.
While out on bond, prosecutors say Springfield sold drugs in September 2016 to another person who shared them with Ilona Cooper, 40, of Hudson, who fatally overdosed.
After accepting a plea agreement, Springfield asked Jones to withdraw his plea, but she denied the request and scheduled his sentencing.
None of Cooper’s family members were present for the sentencing. Assistant Prosecutor Felicia Easter said they were too distraught to go to court.
Several of Jordan Knotts’ family members, however, attended the sentencing. Dawn Knotts, his mother, brought a framed picture of her son that she set on the ledge of the jury box and angled toward Springfield. At one point, she hugged the photograph and sobbed.
Dawn Knotts said she wasn’t able to read through the mountain of condolence cards and letters she received until after her son’s death. She said people described Jordan as a kind, caring and funny young man. She said a card from his best friend summed up the sentiments well, saying, “Our world was better because he was in it.”
Knotts said Springfield sold her son “a baggy full of poison” that ended his life.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that you would go right out and do it again,” she said to Springfield. “When another person died, you would show just as much remorse. None.”
Ricky Knotts read a letter from his daughter, Ashley, who was in court but too emotional to speak. She said Jordan had health problems and was prescribed painkillers that later morphed into his heroin use. She said he got clean but then relapsed and didn’t have the chance to get sober again because he died.
“I pray you can change and grow from your mistakes,” she said of Springfield.
Easter urged Jones to impose a 15-year prison sentence on Springfield.
“How do we hinder a drug dealer who — knowing he is out on bond and caused a death — is still selling drugs?” she asked. “This defendant shows no remorse and no signs of slowing down his criminal drug activity.”
Springfield initially declined to speak but, when Jones asked again, said he feels bad for the Knotts’ loss but denied being responsible. He said he sold heroin but not carfentanil or fentanyl, drugs that are more powerful and deadly. Heroin users often don't know what they're getting.
“I will never deny I sold heroin,” Springfield said. “I was wrong. I never sold fentanyl. They should see all the evidence. I don’t feel I should keep making excuses. I don’t want to cause them no more pain.”
Jones announced that she would sentence Springfield to six years on the first involuntary manslaughter charge and nine years on the second. Migdal, however, asked for a sidebar to talk to the judge.
Jones then took a recess and got the transcripts for Springfield’s plea. She confirmed the transcript showed she agreed to an eight-year sentence.
Jones went with the agreed-upon sentence and dismissed the other charges against Springfield.
Knotts’ family members weren’t satisfied with the sentence.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.