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Man Gets 5 to 15 Years for Supplying Drugs that Killed His Friend

May 9, 2017

Contact: Thomas C. Gannon, 215.348.6461, tcgannon@buckscounty.org

Kyle Wireman Brianna Burns
       Kyle Wireman                Brianna Burns

A Telford man who provided a longtime friend with drugs that killed him was sentenced Monday to serve five to 15 years in state prison.

Kyle Wireman, 29, wept as he apologized to the family of Justin Eschenburg, 30, whom he had known since they were teenagers.

“I’m sorry, and I know that’s not good enough. I pray for you every day,” Wireman said. “Your son was a good friend to me, and I never meant to hurt him.”

On Nov. 3, 2015, Eschenburg’s father found him dead of a drug overdose in his Trumbauersville home, his face pressed against his bed. The night before, Justin Eschenburg had crushed and snorted a blue pill that Wireman had given him – a pill that both men believed was Percocet, a painkiller.

Instead, the pill turned out to be a combination of fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl, synthetic opioids that are many times more potent than morphine or heroin. It was part of a deadly batch of 30 pills that a drug dealer named Brianna Burns had bought in Camden, N.J., a few days earlier.

Wireman and Burns, 23, of Souderton, pleaded guilty Monday in Bucks County Common Pleas Court to drug delivery resulting in death, involuntary manslaughter, delivery of a controlled substance and other charges. Burns will be sentenced later, after a pre-sentence investigation is conducted.

“As a direct result of your conduct, sir, a young man is dead,” Judge Raymond F. McHugh told Wireman. “Opiates today are the devil’s drug. They steal souls and harden hearts … They take you into a long, slow descent into hell on earth.”

Deputy District Attorney Thomas C. Gannon, who prosecuted the case, told McHugh that Wireman had bought three of the pills from Burns in Sellersville, and took them later that day to Eschenburg’s residence.

Wireman gave two of the pills to Eschenburg, who was suffering from back pain, as partial payment for a debt he owed. Wireman swallowed the third pill himself with Eschenburg before leaving his friend’s home.

Not long after, Wireman testified, he was sick and throwing up. He and Eschenburg exchanged text messages that evening about how potent the pills were, but Wireman said he assumed his friend was in no more distress than he was and did not go back to check on him.

“I was throwing up,” he testified. “But I didn’t think he would be any worse off than I was.”

When Eschenburg did not respond to phone calls and text messages the next day, his father, Gary, went to his residence and found him dead. It was the second child he and his wife, Peggy, had lost to tragedy; a car crash had killed their eldest daughter 15 years earlier.

“If I can indulge the court and the defendants for a few minutes, I would like to ask you to close your eyes and visualize the unspeakable moments we had to endure that evening,” Peggy Eschenburg wrote in a statement that was read aloud in court by the couple’s surviving daughter. “Crying, screaming, shock … more shattered dreams for our family.”

Distraught upon learning of Eschenburg’s death, Wireman said he went to state police immediately and confessed to his role.

“Kyle has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met,” testified Lisa Jones, a family friend who said she has known him since birth. “He was torn up. He couldn’t live with himself because of what had happened.”

The same day that Wireman purchased drugs from Burns, she sold the same variety of pills to a Montgomery County man who also died after taking them. Burns pleaded guilty to endangering that man, but was not charged with his death because the coroner could not exclude other factors contributing to his passing.

The Eschenburgs stressed that their son was not a drug addict, but had taken the pill to relieve back pain. His mother’s letter said he had purchased a home and a car on his own, had just taken over the family’s plumbing business and played soccer for his health.

“The defendants, by their callous self-centeredness … have robbed us of his and our future,” Peggy Eschenburg wrote. “There will be no wedding, no children, no new business, no laughter, no silly family moments.”

Mrs. Eschenburg urged Wireman and Burns to “please look at your families’ faces and make a pledge that this is the beginning of your reformation. Be human, be alive with feeling and compassion for others! At least you have a future.”

In addition to the prison time, McHugh ordered Wireman to repay, along with Burns, more than $5,000 toward Justin Eschenburg’s funeral expenses.

The judge told Wireman he didn’t think the defendant meant to harm his friend. “But the fact of the matter is, you did cause harm.”

Approved for release by Gregg D. Shore, First Assistant District Attorney.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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