The family of the mother left for dead in a Manhattan apartment vestibule is not entitled to restitution for her death because the woman chose to take cocaine, the drug dealer’s lawyer claims.
According to Newsday, the judge delayed sentencing for admitted drug dealer James “Pepsi” Holder after his attorney Matthew Kluger argued that Kiersten Cerveny, a Long Island dermatologist and mother of three, was not a victim of Holder’s actions.
Cerveny died of a cocaine overdose in the fall of 2015 after going to Holder’s apartment with her friend, HBO television producer Marc Henry Johnson. After she overdosed, Holder and Johnson dumped her in the apartment building vestibule and left her there after Johnson placed an anonymous 911 call.
“She was a victim of her own poor choices, she was a victim of decisions she made,” Kluger said in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday. “But to state that she was a victim of Mr. Holder’s apartment . . . I don’t see the proximate cause.”
There is no dispute that Holder and Kluger dragged and left Cerveny’s body in the building vestibule, as that act was caught on surveillance camera, Newsday reports. She was pronounced dead after she had been transported to a hospital.
— Patric McDonald (@PatricParamedic) March 24, 2017
According to Newsday, Holder has pleaded guilty only to “maintaining a drug-involved premises,” but not to providing Cerveny with the drugs that killed her.
The prosecution is seeking a 6 1/2 year prison sentence for Holder and restitution as his apartment played a role in her death.
“People can’t use cocaine just anywhere,” the prosecutor said, according to Newsday . “ . . . It was James Holder who provided that place” and if he hadn’t, the 38-year-old woman “could have lived to see another day.”
Johnson previously pled guilty to accessory for moving Ceverny’s body to conceal the presence of drug activity in Holder’s apartment.
Holder’s sentencing has been rescheduled to May 11.