Woman pleads guilty in heroin case
ELKTON — A woman is facing up to four years in prison after accepting a plea deal in a case in which investigators confiscated heroin, prescription pills and several pieces of stolen property, after finding her and a man passed out inside their running, in-gear car at an Elkton intersection.
The defendant, Katherine Elizabeth Cotullas, 25, of Magnolia, Del., pleaded guilty to possession of heroin during the brief Cecil County Circuit Court hearing. Prosecutors, in exchange, dropped four related charges against Cotullas, including possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime and possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
A sentencing date had not been scheduled, as of Wednesday afternoon.
Her co-defendant, Joshua Amos Kist, 32, of Bear, Del., is scheduled to stand trial in July. Last month, Kist’s first trial ended with the judge declaring a mistrial because jurors had seen a corrections officer escorting Kist to the courtroom.
Maryland State Police Tfc. John Wildman arrested Cotullas and Kist shortly after finding them incapacitated inside their silver car at Delancey Road and East Pulaski Highway about 5:15 a.m. Oct. 5, according to court records.
The traffic light was green, but the car did not move forward into the intersection, prosecutors said. Wildman found Kist slumped over the wheel — his foot on the brake and the running car in drive — and Cotullas slumped over in the front passenger’s seat, prosecutors added.
Wildman engaged the parking brake and removed the keys from the ignition, according to court records. Kist failed a field sobriety test several moments later, court records show. Because the trooper noticed a syringe on the center console and pill bottles scattered throughout the vehicle and because the couple was slow in stirring, he dispatched a K9 Unit and the specially trained dog alerted to the presence of illegal drugs while scanning the car, according to court records.
Searchers confiscated drug paraphernalia and narcotics, including about five grams of heroin, a quarter-ounce of marijuana, a “crack” cocaine pipe, a digital scale and 230 prescription pain and antidepressant pills in eight bottles, police reported.
They seized an unloaded 12-gauge shotgun and, next to the weapon, a Delaware man’s driver’s license, wallet and credit card, police said. Because of past convictions, Kist and Cotullas are prohibited from possessing firearms, police added.
Investigators later contacted the gun owner, who reported that someone had broken into his pickup truck a night earlier and stole approximately $1,685 in property, including the shotgun, hunting gear and hand tools, police reported.
Searchers found all of that listed stolen property inside the suspects’ vehicle, according to police.