Tensions escalate after fatal drug driving sentence

Dec. 11—WILKES-BARRE — Tensions escalated outside a Luzerne County Courtroom Monday involving the families of Jayda Latriece Barber, who was sentenced for the drug driving crash that killed her cousin, Zyier Spruell, in 2020.

Spruell’s mother, Devonne Blakely and Barber’s family engaged in a finger-pointing screaming incident outside a courtroom prompting a team of sheriff deputies to respond.

Jurors on the second floor emerged from the jury waiting room while many others exited other courtrooms due to the screaming.

After several minutes, sheriff deputies managed to have Barber’s family leave by the elevator while Blakely exited by stairs.

Barber, 30, formerly of Griffith Lane, Wilkes-Barre, was before Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. to be sentence on charges of accidents causing death and driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Barber pled guilty to the charges Aug. 7.

Pennsylvania State Police at Wilkes-Barre in court records say Barber was traveling north on Interstate 81 when she lost control of her 1997 BMW near the Oak Street Bridge in Pittston Township on July 14, 2020.

Barber’s vehicle spun into the grassy median where it flipped and rolled multiple times coming to rest against a guide rail for the southbound lane, court records say.

Spruell, 18, of Plymouth, a passenger in the BMW, was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled. He died at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.

Two bags of marijuana and sealed packages of marijuana laced cookies were found inside the BMW, court records say.

A blood test showed Barber had levels of THC Delta in her system at the time of the crash, according to court records.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Degnan said in court the investigation did not support the filing of more serious charges, including homicide by vehicle.

Barber’s attorney, Frank McCabe, requested a special probationary sentence with house arrest.

Degnan asked for a prison sentence indicating Barber did not have a driver’s license and should not had been driving.

In response, Barber said she has been apologetic and was told not to attend the funeral of Spruell, calling him her best friend.

Sklarosky sentenced Barber to one month to one year for the fatal crash followed by a consecutive term of 72 hours to six months for the drug driving offense. Barber was also ordered to pay $10,893 in restitution for Spruell’s funeral cost.

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