Drug dealer found guilty of murder in heroin overdose

She's been charged with three other overdose deaths, too.
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A Maplewood heroin dealer facing multiple charges of murder has been found guilty of at least one of them.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office says 31-year-old Beverly Burrell sold heroin to Lucas Ronnei, 20, and a friend in Jan. 2016. Ronnei died of an overdose afterwards.

According to Judge Paul Scoggin's verdict, the man had struggled with heroin addiction for about two years. On Jan 6. family became suspicious that he had injected heroin one night but they let him sleep. They heard him snoring at 9:30 a.m. the next morning, but by 11:30 he was unconscious.

As the judge notes, no one saw Ronnei inject the drug. So nobody could prove he died from heroin Burrell sold him. However, considering the timeline, the judge said it's “highly unlikely Ronnei obtained any other heroin" from a different dealer.

The Hennepin County Attorney is not able to comment too much on the trial because Burrell still has three more similar murder trials to go.

The other charges

Burrell is awaiting trials for the deaths of three other men.

Maxwell Tillitt, 21, died at an Eden Prairie hotel in Sept. 2015, a day after buying heroin from Burrell, according to the criminal complaint. The medical examiner ruled his cause of death was an overdose; he had also had methamphetamine in his system, the complaint says.

Nicholas Petrick, 29, of New Prague, was found dead in a vehicle in an Eden Prairie parking lot in April 2016. The medical examiner ruled he died of heroin laced with fentanyl, a criminal complaint notes.

As the Pioneer Press reports, the fourth man isn't identified. He died in Colombia Heights in April 2016.

Drug use in Minnesota

In Hennepin County last year, 144 people died from some sort of opioid – either an illegal street drug such as heroin, or a prescription painkiller like Vicodin, OxyContin, or Percocet.

And data from the Minnesota Department of Health show there were 572 drug overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2015 – that was up 11 percent from 2014, when there were 516. (The department hasn’t released the full 2016 numbers yet, so these are the most recent annual figures available.)

If you're struggling with addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a website that shows residential, outpatient and hospital inpatient treatment program locations.

The National Institutes of Health has more options, and a guide of what to do if a friend or loved one has a substance abuse problem.

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