It’s a legal first for Kentucky.
A federal jury in Lexington on Thursday convicted a Clark County man for distributing the heroin that led to an overdose death.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Kerry Harvey, said he hopes the verdict sent a message to all drug dealers that their illegal activities are putting lives in danger.
“When you sell heroin, I think you know intuitively that there is a very significant risk of death," Harvey said.
The man convicted, Harold Salyers, 53, of Winchester, faces a minimum 20 years without the chance of parole. He will be sentenced in January.
Prosecutor Harvey said the Salyers case may be the first, but that there’s more to come.
He said he hoped the seriousness of Saylers’ penalties would get the drug dealers attention.
“In my mind, people who traffic in heroin deserve no sympathy, and they'll receive no sympathy from this office,” Harvey said.
According to the Fayette County Coroner, there have been 69 overdose deaths in 2013. Of those deaths, 39 of them involved heroin.
In 2012, there were 22 heroin-related overdose deaths in Fayette County, according to the coroner's office.