A man who pleaded guilty to giving a potent and fatal dose of heroin to a friend was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison.
Joseph J. Capadona, 24, who was convicted of first-degree reckless homicide, also will spend five years on extended supervision after he is released from prison, where he was sent by Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz for providing the heroin that killed Lukas S. Howery, 30, of McFarland.
Howery was found on July 12, 2015, in a restroom at Bowl-a-Vard Lanes, 2121 East Springs Drive, where he worked. He never regained consciousness, and died at Meriter Hospital three days later, his family by his side.
Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Blais and Capadona’s lawyer, David Geier, jointly recommended the four-year prison sentence, followed by five years of extended supervision.
In his statement to Berz, Capadona also asked her to send him to prison, saying “that’s probably what I need” to get himself off heroin and to seek an education.
But before agreeing to it, Berz had to know whether Capadona had left Howery in the restroom to die without calling 911, and whether it could be proven that he had taken the needle Howery used and threw it away in another bathroom. The evidence didn’t confirm either point, she said.
But Berz said there was much more that made Capadona deserving of a prison sentence.
She marveled that even within weeks of Howery’s death, Capadona provided heroin to two other people who, on separate occasions, overdosed and had to be revived by paramedics.
“Your part in taking someone’s life had no effect on your risking other people’s lives,” Berz said.
In June, while free on bail as the reckless homicide case was pending, Capadona was charged in Columbia County with drunken driving and with resisting arrest. Those charges are still pending.
Capadona pleaded guilty to the reckless homicide charge on Sept. 6. Three days later, he committed retail theft. And six days after that, he again committed retail theft, and also was charged with resisting arrest.
Sent to jail to await sentencing, officials said he used cocaine that had been smuggled into the jail. He was not charged for that offense.
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“I get it,” Berz said. “Your message has come to me loud and clear, saying ‘Please judge, please send me to prison.’ I will grant your request.”
Each July 12 while he’s on extended supervision, Berz said, Capadona must speak to a school or youth organization about how heroin has affected his life. She also required him to give any information he has about his heroin source to police.
Blais said Capadona’s heroin addiction is “deeply rooted.” Geier said that throughout his youth, Capadona was exposed to and raised by drug addicts, and didn’t know what living a normal life was like, in which drugs were not a part.
Capadona apologized to Howery’s family for his role in Howery’s death.
“Lukas was my friend,” Capadona said, his voice breaking. “He may not have been my best friend, but we did have one thing in common.”
That was heroin. Together, and with other friends, they pooled money so that Capadona could buy heroin from his source, then split the heroin among the group. At the time, Capadona was living in a tent near Bowl-a-Vard.
The last time he got heroin for Howery, he said, both he and Howery were “dope sick,” going through withdrawals.
“He came to me for help and I thought I was helping him by getting him heroin,” Capadona said.
Howery’s family, through tears and anger, recalled Howery as kind and good-humored, who left behind two children.
“As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Capadona is a murderer,” Howery’s father, Steve Howery, said in a statement read by victim-witness specialist Shelley Justiliano. “He murdered my son by giving him heroin that he named ‘the bomb.’ ”
Howery’s mother, Lorena Howery, said she slipped into depression after her son died, and has never been the same since.
“Lukas’ death has taken the life out of me,” she said. “It’s like someone has reached inside me and taken my heart.”