Proposed law could charge heroin dealers for overdose deaths

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Heroin overdoses are a growing problem in our state. One Kentucky lawmaker wants to make sure dealers pay when someone dies from taking the drug.

State Senator Katie Stine sponsored a bill during the 2013 legislative session that would have allowed prosecutors to charge heroin dealers with murder if one of their buyers died of an overdose. It's a bill Franklin County Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland supports.

"I welcome the legislation. I'll be happy to have anything else that can be used to go after heroin traffickers, but there's still gonna be that obstacle of making that connection and that causation," says Cleveland.

"That bill may have some benefits to it. We've just got to make sure that it can work. That it'll be a common sense approach that will work in helping us get control of this real heroin problem that's growing," notes Governor Steve Beshear.

The bill didn't get through the General Assembly this year, but Senator Stine does plan to bring it up again in the 2014 legislative session.

U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey says, in the last few years, they've had two guilty pleas from dealers, and currently have a couple cases under indictment.

"The federal law is relatively favorable for these sort of prosecutions. We simply have to prove that there was an illegal distribution of the drug and that the use of that drug resulted in death," he says.

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