Woman To Serve Three Years In Jail For Father’s Overdose Death

SNOW HILL — A Delaware woman has been found guilty of manslaughter for injecting her father with the heroin that caused his overdose death.

On Wednesday, Justeen Nichole Whittaker, 29, of Dover, was found guilty of manslaughter for her involvement in the death of her father, Nathanial Whittaker, 50, also of Dover, in an Ocean City hotel. On Oct. 24, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) detectives responded to a third-floor room at the Americana Hotel in Ocean City for a report of a male suffering cardiac arrest.

Nathanial Whittaker was found lying face up on the far side of the bed furthest from the hotel room’s door. Ocean City EMS arrived on scene and attempted lifesaving efforts, but Whittaker was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene. A subsequent search of the hotel room produced multiple drug-related items indicative of heroin consumption.

Detectives learned the room was being shared by the deceased and his daughter, Justeen Whittaker. The father and daughter were reportedly in Ocean City celebrating a recent inheritance windfall. OCPD detectives interviewed Justeen Whittaker, who ultimately confessed to injecting her father with heroin at his request, as he was too intoxicated to inject himself.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Maryland concluded Whittaker died as a result of a fentanyl overdose. In December, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office indicted Justeen Whittaker on charges of involuntary manslaughter and distribution of fentanyl.

On Wednesday, Whittaker was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Worcester County Circuit Court. The sentencing guidelines provided by the Maryland Sentencing Commission indicated a range from two to seven years of incarceration. After Whittaker was found guilty on Wednesday, prosecutors proceeded directly to sentencing, and Worcester County State’s Attorney William McDermott asked the court for prison time for Whittaker.

“The community needs to know that as quickly as heroin can steal a life, this office will seek to take your freedom if you knowingly deal, distribute or administer drugs and it results in someone’s death,” McDermott said.

Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Thomas C. Groton III sentenced Whittaker to eight years with all but three suspended. She was also placed on supervised probation for two-and-a-half years upon her release.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.