According to police, Pernesky was in a room at the Motel 6 on Buell road near the airport in February when his girlfriend Jennifer Baker, 40, died of a heroin overdose.

After prosecutors waited months to get their hands on him, the man accused of tampering with the scene of his girlfriend's fatal overdose in a Gates motel pleaded not guilty Monday night.

Scott Pernesky was arraigned in Gates Town Court on felony charges of tampering with physical evidence as well as an unrelated charge of petit larceny.

"It's very serious. It should be very clear," exclaimed Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Daniel Strollo who presented the charges.

According to police, Pernesky was in a room at the Motel 6 on Buell road near the airport in February when his girlfriend Jennifer Baker, 40, died of a heroin overdose.

Instead of calling for help before her death, or alerting anyone afterward, investigators said Pernesky hid the drugs, wrapped the victim's body up in sheets and left.

Police and prosecutors explained that under the state's Good Samartain law, someone who encounters a medical emergency in the middle of an illegal drug situation, and calls for help, can be protected from criminal charges.

"In this case, he should have called 911. We would've come there, like we said. The Good Samaritan law would've worked in this case, " declared Sgt. Robert Long with the Gates Police Department. "Maybe there could have been a life saved in this situation."

Prosecutors said what Pernesky could have done or should have done was not as significant as what he did do.

"It's not necessarily a specific requirement imposed on him as much as a requirement to not engage in other conduct," said Strollo.

Pernesky vanished after the incident at the motel, only to turn up, already in jail in Chemung County on shoplifting charges for which he served 55 days before being transported back to Monroe County.

At Monday night's arraignment, Strollo pointed to Pernesky's previous criminal record including a 1990 conviction on drug charges and a 1998 drunk driving conviction.

Pernesky's bail was set at $19,000. He remains at the Monroe County Jail pending his preliminary hearing on June 21.

In the meantime, Strollo announced that his case would be referred to a grand jury.

We take heroin overdose deaths very seriously in this county," Strollo said. "We are going to continue doing that. They're going to be very vigorously investigated and vigorously prosecuted."