A federal judge Friday handed-down a sentence in a drug case that's touched our KELOLAND family and viewers around the country.
Devlin Tommeraasen is going to prison for 10 years for selling heroin laced with fentanyl, in a deadly dosage that killed Angela Kennecke's daughter Emily Groth last spring.
It's one of several local opioid cases we've been following on KELOLAND News. The U.S. attorney tells us that it appears public awareness has led to a drop in overdoses over the past few months.
It was a heart-wrenching sentencing hearing for Angela Kennecke.
"I've gotten up in front of audiences for the last several months since this has happened and this was the toughest, this is definitely the toughest," Angela said
Angela told Devlin Tommeraasen that she and her family are serving a life sentence without her daughter Emily, who died of fentanyl poisoning. Angela said in court she doesn't believe Tommeraasen intended to cause Emily's overdose, but he must pay a price for what he's done.
"I think he should be held accountable for his actions. But he also has a problem. He also suffers from addiction and he needs help, too. What he did was wrong, but he needs help," Angela said.
The judge reviewed Tommeraasen's long history of drug abuse starting with alcohol and marijuana when he was 14, progressing to opiates when he was 20 and meth when he was 23. Tommeraasen overdosed three times last year.
"I do feel like he and his family are getting a gift. He's still alive. He overdosed three times and nearly died. He overdosed on the day Emily died. So, even though he has to go to prison, he's still alive, he can still live his life and he will get out of prison some day and stay clean," Angela said.
Tommeraasen apologized to Angela and her family and said he was working on turning his life around, as he begins his ten-year stretch behind bars.
The judge also recommended Tommeraasen undergo drug treatment while he's in prison. He'll be supervised by a probation officer once he's released from prison and will have to undergo random drug tests.
Following Emily's death, Angela started a fund in her daughters name to help people pay for treatment and recovery. If you'd like to learn more about Emily's hope, or if you are looking for resources to help a loved one who is struggling with addiction, click here