LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Winchester man will spend at least 20 years in prison after a federal jury convicted him of selling heroin to a man who overdosed.
The jury convicted 53-year-old Harold Salyers of distribution of heroin resulting in death, conspiracy to distribute heroin, possession with
intent to distribute heroin and distribution of heroin.
The guilty verdict came Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Lexington. The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky says he hopes it has an impact on similar cases in the future.
"We have obtained convictions previously but they've always been by virtue of a guilty plea," Kerry Harvey said.
Salyers sold heroin to 49-year-old Wade Dickerson in August of 2012. Dickerson died a day after overdosing.
"When you sell heroin I think you know intuitively that there is a very severe risk of death with that sort of dangerous drug," Harvey said.
The case found it's way to federal court after an investigation by Winchester Police. Harvey says this conviction shows that juries are willing to convict dealers when their customers overdose. He says he hopes to see his office take more cases like this one from local law enforcement.
"They see up close and in a very personal way the toll extracted from our communities by this type of drug activities," Harvey said.
Dickerson's family released a statement on the conviction.
"We feel that Justice has been served in the case of Harold Wayne Salyers. We are glad that this is all over. It's been a very emotional time for all of us. There have been too many deaths related to Heroin Overdose's. We would like to thank the U.S Attorney's Office and The Winchester Police Department for all their hard work in this case.
By getting one heroin dealer off the streets there is no telling how many lives we have saved. "
Salyers' sentencing is in January. The distribution of heroin resulting
in death carries a minimum of 20 years in prison. He faces a
maximum of 20 years on the other heroin charges. Because the charges are federal he would not be eligible for parole and would have to serve the entire sentence.