'And, your honor ... I'm not guilty'

Joshua Wozniak

MICHIGAN CITY – A local man accused of providing his father with a fatal dose of heroin confirmed Thursday he is prepared to face a jury in La Porte Superior Court 1 beginning Sept. 30.

Joshua James Wozniak, 27, is charged with one count of dealing a controlled substance resulting in death, a Level 1 felony punishable by 20-40 years in prison.

He appeared for his final pretrial conference Thursday, at which time Judge Michael Bergerson informed him it would be the last day he’d be willing to consider a plea agreement in the case.

“I’m not fooling around here,” Bergerson said. “This isn’t like you get the chance to change your mind today, and then tomorrow you say, ‘I didn’t understand the ramifications'.”

Wozniak confirmed he understood the seriousness of the situation.

“Your honor, I do understand that,” he said. “I’ve seen the bloodwork, and it is considerably lower than what the lethal level is. And, your honor … I’m not guilty.”

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bethany Beckman told the court Wozniak’s father’s body is scheduled for exhumation, autopsy and reburial on Tuesday.

David Payne, Wozniak’s defense attorney, indicated it’s likely he will need to depose the doctor that performs the autopsy between the time the toxicology results return and the start of the trial.

According to the probable cause document in the case, Wozniak’s father died of a heroin overdose in the early morning hours of Jan. 24, 2019.

Police say Wozniak provided his father with the fatal dose, which was injected after repeated heroin and crack cocaine use between the two at a Springfield Township residence in the hours leading up to the death of Larry Wozniak.

The matter became a criminal investigation after a witness informed the family the elder Wozniak had died more than eight hours before 911 was called.

Joshua Wozniak will return to La Porte Superior Court 1 for his final pre-jury conference on Sept. 12.

As he awaits the resolution of his case, he remains incarcerated at the La Porte County Jail on a cash-only bond of $100,000.

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