Parents have message for convicted drug dealer connected to their son’s death

Opioid Crisis

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A mother and father came face to face with the man convicted of supplying the drugs that killed their son, and they have a message for him.

22-year-old Layne Diaz died nearly two years ago in January. Just this week, a federal jury found Maurice Cathey guilty of supplying Layne with the fentanyl-laced heroin that killed him. Sentencing is set for sometime in February, but Cathey will face a mandatory life sentence.

Kim and Dan Diaz think the verdict is appropriate, and they’re glad this is one less drug dealer on the streets. Even though Cathey will spend the rest of his life in prison, the Diaz family is now facing a lifetime of missing their son.

Pictures only give a snapshot of Layne Diaz. If you didn’t know him, his parents will tell you he was smart, in several accelerated classes, and a star athlete. Most importantly, he was a light to them and his brother.

“If Layne had a nickname, it would be ‘smiles-a-lot,’ because he was a generally happy person,” Dan said.

When he was a junior in high school, the Diazes noticed Layne started to fade.

“Not the same bubbly, excellent student type kid he had been,” Dan said.

Layne started using drugs, but the family didn’t give up hope. Layne enrolled in treatment, and was on a good path.

“He had not used in over seven months,” Kim said.

That’s why it was especially devastating when police told them their son had died of fentanyl-poisoning in 2018.

“I really didn’t believe them. There’s got to be a mistaken identity. He was not doing that anymore. He had plans. He was doing so well,” Kim said.

Cathey and Corrod Phillips were part of a group running a heroin and crack cocaine operation out of a home on North Sherman Avenue. It would be easy for the Diazes to condemn Cathey; instead this is what they would say to the man who supplied the drug that killed their son.

“I would take the high road and say I forgive you. That’s my process,” Dan said.

“And I’m trying to forgive. I just have a lot of questions that I know would never be answered very well,” Kim said.

The Diazes are sharing their son’s story, and they hope it helps other people fighting addiction. Leave it to a family that lost one of its lights to try to save another from this darkness.

“Layne is with us still. He’s still part of us. He will be in our tapestry, our history, forever,” Dan said.

Prosecutors say Cathey and Corrod Phillips provided the heroin laced with fentanyl in several overdose cases, including the death of Angela Kennecke’s daughter. Authorities believe Phillips is the source of the drug that killed Emily.

If you are or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, there is help. Visit our Opioid Crisis page to find a list of resources.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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