Prosecutors Hope Winchester Conviction Will Serve As Warning To Drug Dealers
A federal jury in Winchester has handed down a guilty verdict for a man accused of distributing heroin that resulted in an overdose death.
The full trial and conviction is a first for Kentucky under a federal statute that allows for severe penalties for those who sell drugs that lead to the death of the user.
53-year-old Harold Wayne Salyers was convicted Wednesday of distributing heroin that resulted in the death of Wade Dickerson. What makes Salyers’ case unique is that it’s the first time Kentucky has successfully prosecuted such a case under the federal statute all the way through to a jury verdict.
"We really hope that the people out there who are engaged in drug trafficking for profit will take note of this sentence and more specifically the harsh penalties involved as a result of this offense," says U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Kerry Harvey.
That sentence includes a minimum of 20 years behind bars and a maximum of life.
Rebecca Gross, the stepdaughter of the victim, says her family feels the punishment is appropriate.
"By getting one heroin dealer off the streets there is no telling how many lives we have saved," she says in a recorded message.
Harvey says the change in legal strategy was in response to the outbreak of heroin usage in the state.