Twin Cities heroin dealer charged with murder gets 14 years – and counting

"The most prolific dealer we have seen in Hennepin County."

The recent crackdown on Twin Cities opioid dealers continued this week with the sentencing of Beverly Burrell, who's charged with murder in relation to several overdose deaths.

The 31-year-old Maplewood resident was given 14 years by a Hennepin County judge, and there are still more trials to come, according to a news release.

This week's sentencing was in relation to the fatal overdoses of two of Burrell's local clients, Max Tillitt and Luke Ronnei. Both were in their 20s.

At sentencing, Tillit's father asked the judge to hand down a tough punishment, saying his son only got hooked on opioids because of "a concussion during football practice." He was able to get clean and stay sober for 10 months, but later relapsed and died, leaving behind an infant son.

Prosecutors also asked for a tough sentence, saying Burrell "knew she was killing people" and that she was “the most prolific dealer we have seen in Hennepin County.”

The judge complied, and sentenced her to consecutive terms – one for each of the two victims. 

More trials on the way

Burrell's next trial in Hennepin County begins Dec. 18, the news release says.

There are at least two overdose cases against her there, and another in Sherburne County, where authorities say Burrell caused the death of a 31-year-old ex-Marine, according to the Pioneer Press.

Charging drug dealers with murder

This continues the sometimes controversial practice of prosecuting and convicting drug dealers for murder when their clients have overdosed.

The reason prosecutors are cracking down – in Minnesota and other states – is the opioid crisis, which has caused a rising tide of overdose deaths across the country.

On April 21 of this year, Minnesota received a federal grant of more than $5 million to fight the epidemic.

Coincidentally, that was the one-year anniversary of Prince's death, which was caused by a painkiller overdose.

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