Joseph Joudah, ex-Hofstra student, gets probation in OD death
A judge Friday sentenced a former Hofstra University student to five years of probation after his previous guilty plea to criminally negligent homicide in connection with his girlfriend’s 2015 heroin overdose death in a college dorm.
State Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti also granted youthful offender status to Joseph Joudah, 20, of Islip Terrace, at his Mineola sentencing, meaning his criminal record will be sealed.
In announcing the sentence, the judge told Joudah he was “very fortunate” that the parents of victim Olivia McClellan “went to bat” for him and didn’t want him prosecuted for her death.
Prosecutors had alleged that in April 2015, Joudah injected heroin into himself and McClellan, 19, a Hofstra sophomore from California, before she died alone hours later.
In October 2015, a grand jury indicted Joudah, then a sophomore biochemistry major, on charges that included manslaughter.
The Nassau County district attorney’s office had alleged Joudah bought the heroin and also injected McClellan with it while knowing she had taken prescription medication that day and once had attempted suicide with heroin.
Prosecutors said McClellan had trouble breathing right away and other physical symptoms, but Joudah later left the room and also waited 17 hours to call for help while she died alone.
McClellan’s mother, Cathy, told Newsday in an interview after Joudah’s July guilty plea that her daughter wouldn’t have used heroin against her will.
“It was an accident and she is just as at fault as he is,” the California woman said of the death of her daughter, who had been studying science on a partial scholarship.
The mother also said then that her daughter’s autopsy results gave her family reason to believe Olivia was fine when Joudah left her dorm, but died later in her sleep.
Authorities said if Joudah violates his probation, he could face a prison sentence of up to 4 years.
Joudah didn’t speak in court before his sentencing, and also declined to comment while leaving court Friday.
“This was a tragic accident between two quality young people who cared deeply for each other and I think youthful offender treatment was fully appropriate in this case,” said his attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City.
Prosecutors declined to comment.