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Published: Thursday, 5/17/2007

East Toledo woman gets prison for drug death

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A tearful Nora Eckenrode said yesterday that her "loving hands" were used for harm the day Frank Biers asked her to inject him with heroin.

But Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Linda Jennings said she heard nothing but excuses from the 43-year-old East Toledo woman. The judge then sentenced Eckenrode to three years in prison.

Eckenrode of 630 Platt St. pleaded no contest April 9 to involuntary manslaughter and possession of heroin in the December death of Mr. Bires. She was given a three-year sentence for the manslaughter conviction and 11 months for a drug conviction to be served concurrently.

"Everything was everybody else's fault but yours," the judge said. "It wasn't bad enough that you injected him with heroin, but you didn't call 911 and chose to let him die."

Mr. Bires, 52, of Oregon, whose death was ruled a homicide, was found Jan. 9 in the basement of a house on Platt. Authorities said he was found two weeks after he died and his body was pushed through a trap door leading to the basement.

Eckenrode was accused of preparing the drugs and injecting Mr. Bires with heroin. After the injection, Mr. Bires convulsed and stopped breathing.

James Marciniak, 47, and Jeffrey Kittle, 48, were convicted of pushing the body into the basement and were each sentenced May 7 to four years of community control, including six months in the Community Treatment Facility. They pleaded no contest in April to one count each of abuse of corpse.

Eckenrode read a four-page statement yesterday that said she was not aware of what happened to Mr. Bires and believed he was well and he left the house that night. She added that she thought she was helping him get through a bad time in his addiction.

"Mr. Bires begged me to help him," she said, adding, "this was definitely a tragedy that I did not intend to happen."

Defense attorney Jane Roman noted that Mr. Bires had several drugs in his system at the time, including toxic levels of cocaine and morphine.

She said her client was unaware of the level of drugs in Mr. Bires system when she injected him with heroin. "She looked at it as what she was doing was assisting someone who she actually felt sorry for," Ms. Roman said. "Unfortunately, Ms. Eckenrode did not know at the time that there were multiple other drugs in the victim's system."



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