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Jury clears man who gave near-fatal dose of heroin

Saturday, January 30, 1999

By John M.R. Bull, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

He was an experienced heroin user who asked his buddy to shoot him up with a syringe full of the drug.

But Bruno Shemansky overdosed and almost died.

Shemansky was offended that his pal hit him with too big a dose, then apparently fled when Shemansky passed out.

So the day he got out of the hospital, Shemansky went right to the police station and had his buddy charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault.

A jury yesterday needed only 30 minutes to decide that the friend, Timothy R. Kubica, 46, was not guilty.

Shemansky, 38, of the Mount Oliver area, said he was in Happy Days Bar on Brownsville Road on Nov. 14, 1997 when Kubica offered to split $30 worth of heroin. Shemansky agreed and the two went to a shed behind the building.

Shemansky testified that he and Kubica had done heroin together six or seven times before and that he saw Kubica prepare the heroin in the normal way. After Kubica shot himself up, Shemansky asked Kubica to inject him in the neck.

Shemansky said he could tell from his many experiences with heroin injections that it was a dull needle. Then he felt an unfamiliar burning sensation and knew something was wrong. Then he passed out.

Witnesses said they saw Kubica hurry into the bar and leave through a side door, not to return. Another bar patron, a medical technician, found Shemansky and summoned paramedics, who testified that Shemansky was all but dead.

Shemansky spent the night in the hospital, checked himself out the next day and went to police, he testified.

Defense attorney Joseph A. Paletta said Kubica didn't know that Shemansky had fallen to the ground, having left the shed before Shemansky showed any signs of a problem.

"Both of these fellows knew what they were doing," Paletta told the jury.

Shemansky was "self-righteous" to use heroin, ask his friend's help him do it, then run to the police, Paletta said.

Prosecutor Edward Scheid withdrew an attempted homicide charge, but urged the jury to convict Kubica of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He said it was reckless for Kubica to inject someone without knowing the quality or strength of the drug and then run off.

Kubica was not charged with any narcotics violations.

Shemansky testified he had been a drug user since his high school days, 20 years ago, and had been using heroin since 1994. He told the jury he no longer uses drugs.

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