Cumberland County woman gets 2.5 to 7 years in prison in West Shore drug death case

A Silver Spring Township woman received a minimum two-and-a-half year prison sentence Tuesday for her role in the October 2020 drug overdose death of an Enola woman.

Jessica Smith pleaded guilty in June to involuntary manslaughter and a drug delivery charges stemming from the death of Jaime Lynn Gilbert, 36. Gilbert, a mother of three, was found lying on the rear porch of her home in the first block of High Street, East Pennsboro Township, on the morning of Oct. 20, 2020.

Because Smith, 34, has been in prison since May 2021 on subsequent charges, she could be eligible for parole in November 2023.

Tuesday’s sentencing by Judge Jessica Brewbaker saw the release of a lot of emotions.

Gilbert’s parents, in a statement read in court by Senior Assistant District Attorney Daniel Tarvin, said “it is impossible to fill the hole left in all of our lives because of this needless event… This situation ripped our heart out, and we will never be the same again.”

They are left to raise their daughter’s three-year-old, the couple said.

Out of court, meanwhile, Smith’s brother and other family members complained about the plea and – advancing a defense that his sister essentially forfeited when she entered her plea – argued police had no direct evidence that Jessica caused Gilbert’s death and that she only took the plea this summer because she was worried about the risk of losing at trial and facing an even stiffer sentence.

“Innocent until proven guilty is not how it goes around here,” said Jason Smith.

Attempts to reach Jessica Smith’s public defender, Arla Waller, were not successful for this report.

Tarvin, however, said he believed the police had a rock-solid case.

“We would have been confident bringing it to trial, but we do think this resolution was fair,” Tarvin said, noting that he had consulted with Gilbert’s family and police before entering the deal.

Police started to focus on Jessica Smith, case records show, when an unsolicited message came into Gilbert’s phone on Oct. 23, 2020 – three days after Gilbert’s death – stating: “my boy got the real 30s no fet,” in an apparent reference to Oxycontin tablets. Investigators had picked up three blue pills at Gilbert’s home the day of her death that were believed to be pressed fentanyl. All bore a “30″ marking.

Toxicology tests had shown fentanyl in Gilbert’s system.

Police tracked the message to Jessica Smith’s Facebook account. In a subsequent interview with Smith, police said she admitted to selling Gilbert fake Oxycontin – closely matching the description of what was found at Gilbert’s home – multiple times in the past, and that she had delivered eight of the pills to Gilbert shortly before the overdose .

The date of that transaction was never pinned down, Tarvin said, but he noted police said Smith had told them she was Gilbert’s only supplier.

Smith, for her part, told Brewbaker she was voluntarily making the plea in June, and in her court appearance Tuesday she offered her regrets to Gilbert’s parents, saying: “I just want to apologize genuinely from the bottom of my heart that this happened, and I’m sorry for your loss.”

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