A Vienna man who admitted trying to hide the body of a 16-year-old McLean girl who had overdosed on heroin was sentenced Friday to six years and eight months in prison — a stiff penalty that came after prosecutors suggested the girl might have lived with prompt medical care.
Prosecutors stopped just short of saying Kyle Alifom could have saved Emylee Lonczak’s life if he had dialed 911 instead of dumping her outside, but they asked a judge to consider the question. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ben’Ary argued Alifom, 20, had a “classic criminal mind-set,” and his selfish fear of being found in violation of his probation led him to discard his friend’s body “like a piece of garbage.”
“Would medical intervention have saved the life of Emylee Lonczak?” Ben’Ary asked. “Largely because of [Alifom’s] actions that night, no one will ever know the answer.”
For his part, Alifom tearfully apologized to Lonczak’s family members and his own. He said he was “ashamed” of what he had done and was trying to turn away from a life of drug abuse.
“I meant no harm, and yet what I did was very irresponsible,” Alifom said. “That’s not who I am.”
Prosecutors asked that Alifom be sentenced to 10 years in prison; Kevin Brehm, Alifom’s attorney, asked for a term no longer than a year and three months. U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton said the nature of the offense swayed him toward the sentence just short of seven years, though he also thought federal sentencing guidelines “somewhat overstated” Alifom’s previous criminal record.
Alifom pleaded guilty in February to tampering with evidence, admitting that he tried to hide Lonczak’s body by stashing it in some bushes and covering it with a window screen. The man accused of selling the heroin — Antowan Thorne, 37, of the District, who sometimes used the nickname “Smooth” — was indicted earlier this month on a charge of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin resulting in death and a related gun offense.
According to documents in the case, Alifom, Lonczak and two others who are not identified in court papers drove from Virginia to Washington on Aug. 21 to buy heroin, and they used it sitting in their vehicle. Another person in the vehicle — not Alifom — injected Lonczak’s arm when she could not, according to the documents.
That person has not been charged, according to filings from Brehm.
Lonczak, a rising junior at McLean High School who had never used heroin intravenously before, soon fell unconscious in the back seat of the vehicle, and Alifom and another person in the group took her to Alifom’s house and put her on a bed in the basement, according to the documents. The documents say that Alifom discovered her dead when he woke up the next morning.
Fairfax County police found her body on Aug. 23.
Brehm argued in court filings that although his client’s actions were both “inexcusable and irresponsible,” Alifom did not mean for nor cause Lonczak to die. He wrote that Lonczak “appeared to be breathing and alive the whole night,” and Alifom “anticipated she would sleep and feel better in the morning, and return to her home.”
“He would have had no intent for any harm to come to that young woman,” Brehm said in court. “She was his friend.”
Don Lonczak, Emylee Lonczak’s father, said in court that his daughter would have turned 17 next Friday, and the day would now be one of sorrow for her twin brother. He asked the judge to impose a severe punishment because “A light sentence here would send a message that [Alifom] made a proper tactical decision.”
“This man could not be bothered to dial 911 on a cellphone because he was afraid of criminal charges,” Don Lonczak said. “That is not irresponsible conduct . . . .That is indifference for human life.”
After the hearing, Don Lonczak said he was “relieved” Hilton’s sentence was closer to what prosecutors wanted than what defense attorneys requested. Fighting back tears, he recalled his daughter as a “beautiful girl” who had many friends and was interested in fashion design.
“Obviously, from our standpoint, no sentence was ever going to be enough,” he said.
Alifom’s relatives declined to comment.
Authorities in the Washington area and across the country have cautioned for months that more people are abusing heroin — a narcotic with a power users do not fully understand. And federal prosecutors in Alexandria have been particularly aggressive in pursuing those trafficking the drug. Last month, a D.C. dealer whose heroin was linked to three deaths was sentenced to 30 years in prison.