Parents of Overdose Victim Want Leniency for Man Who Supplied Heroin

By Victoria Kim 12/18/14

Ryan Kemp was sentenced to a maximum of 12 years in prison for his role in the overdose death of Elizabeth Kline Smeltzer.

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The man who supplied the heroin that killed Elizabeth Kline Smeltzer was sentenced to 4-12 years in prison plus a year of probation on Monday, despite her parents’ appeal for leniency.

On Jan. 25, 2014, Elizabeth, 21, died in Ryan Kemp’s home after he traveled to Williamsport to pick up heroin and clonazepam, and invited her to his home to use the drugs.“I take responsibility. I provided the heroin she overdosed on,” Kemp, 28, told the courtroom.

Kemp was arrested in March and charged with three felony counts of manufacturing and possession with intent to deliver, a misdemeanor possession charge and drug delivery resulting in death.

Prior to Kemp’s sentencing, Elizabeth’s parents, Ken and Bonnie Kline Smeltzer, advocated a restorative rather than punitive approach to justice. They asked Centre County prosecutors and a judge to consider a maximum two-year term with drug treatment and recovery support in prison and upon release, which would provide Kemp with an opportunity to lead a productive life afterward.

“For me, what would honor my daughter’s life is for Ryan to deal with his addiction, to get out of jail, and to have a productive, meaningful life,” said Bonnie. “That would honor Lizzie.”

Ken and Bonnie, both pastors, said Kemp would benefit most with treatment, recovery, and community service instead of a long incarceration. “Unless someone lives with addiction issues, it’s easy to say, ‘Lock him up and throw away the key,’” said Bonnie.

Ultimately, Ken and Bonnie believe their daughter, who also battled addiction, was ultimately responsible for her own actions. At Kemp’s sentencing, they maintained that they blamed no one else for Elizabeth’s death and that the best solution is to see Kemp overcome his addiction.

“We would not want to see another life lost to a long prison sentence on top of the life of our daughter, all because of one night’s mistakes,” Ken told the judge before Kemp was sentenced.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr