A Lynn man will spend eight to 12 years in state prison for selling the drugs that caused a fatal overdose. It's believed to be the longest sentence ever returned in this type of case.
No one is disputing that 33-year-old Carlos Hunter sold drugs, not even his attorney. No one is disputing that the drugs Hunter sold were used by 37-year-old Joshua Miller when Miller fatally overdosed in a Lynn sober house in 2015. What's in question is what sentence Hunter should receive for his conviction of involuntary manslaughter charges in Miller's death.
At Hunter's sentencing hearing Thursday, prosecutors asked for 12 to 15 years in prison. They said Hunter was motivated by greed and was preying on vulnerable people. They cited Hunter's record of drug dealing and extensive evidence obtained from cell phone towers showing that Hunter sold fentanyl to Miller and knew that the drug was dangerous.
“This was the ultimate salesman selling absolute poison on a daily basis,” prosecutors said.
Miller's mother, Diana McEvoy, addressed the court saying that her son became addicted to painkillers at age 16 after a car accident and has been struggling with an opioid use disorder ever since. McEvoy says she has been so overwhelmed by grief since her son's death that she is not able to perform simple daily functions.
"He was a loving son, my first born, a loving big brother and daddy — a devoted father to his surviving children: Mason, now 12, and Max, now 18 months," McEvoy said, tearfully.
Five of Hunter's family members sat in court wiping tears. Hunter's attorney John Apruzzese asked for a 3- to 5-year sentence — saying that more than that was extremely unusual in an involuntary manslaughter case.
"I'm reviewing the sentencing guidelines for guidance because in my 25-year-career I've never had a case like this," Apruzzese said.
Lawrence Superior Court Judge Mary Ames said that even though Hunter never intended Miller's death, his drug dealing would have inevitably led to someone's death.
Gov. Charlie Baker has filed legislation that would enhance the penalties for those convicted of providing the drugs that cause someone else's death. The legislation says the drug dealer would be held liable for manslaughter and would face a minimum of five years in prison.
"That might be helpful to prosecutors in getting some kind of plea deal," said Margaret Monsell, an attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.
Mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking fentanyl is one of several criminal justice measures being considered by state lawmakers. Those measures also involve reducing incarceration rates and repealing the law criminalizing being in the presence of heroin.